Terminating an employee is one of the most difficult decisions a manager has to make. This article covers some reasons an organization may have for starting the termination process.
Quality of work has deteriorated
When an employee’s performance has deteriorated to the point that work is not getting done on time or the quality of the work is compromised, action is required to resolve the issue. There could be underlying personal reasons for the poor performance. It’s important for a manager or someone from HR to discuss the situation and to offer to help if the employee is struggling. If performance does not improve after a successive number of meetings to address the concerns, then termination may be the only recourse.
In order to be more competitive or reduce costs, a company may need to restructure a position.
Just cause/violation of company policies or procedures
Generally, terminating an employee for “just cause” involves a “yes” answer to the following two questions:
(1) Can the employee misconduct be proven?
(2) Is the nature and degree of the misconduct sufficient to dismiss the employee?
Many employment agreements typically give the employer an opportunity to terminate an employee during the employee’s probationary period (usually 3-6 months), without notice and without cause. Be aware of the responsibilities of terminating an employee through their probationary period. Ensure that the length of the probationary time period in your employment agreement reflects the length of time it will take to determine whether the person is suitable for the position.
An employee who willfully disobeys their manager’s authority can be grounds for dismissal, provided that the manager doesn’t ask the employee to do something that would be unethical or illegal.
Your organization may have financial reasons resulting in the need to terminate.
An employee may have reached a limit for their career in your organization. Perhaps you can’t provide the employee with an opportunity to move upwards in your organization. Consider possible internal restructuring or creating a position that may be more challenging for them. Although you don’t need to terminate the employee, if there’s nothing internal that you can offer that employee, you may want to encourage him/her to look for higher career options outside of your organization, even though this might be detrimental to you or your organization overall.
To improve your organization
If an employee is incompetent, unmotivated, or a distraction to other employees, this may have a negative impact on the morale of others. In situations such as this, termination may make the organization better with the end result of happier employees and more work getting accomplished.
- Consider giving the employee additional training before making the decision to terminate.
- Review the employee’s employment agreement for any terms or conditions prior to termination.
- Give proper warning(s) – typically companies will give verbal warning(s) first, then written warning(s) and, only if improvements don’t occur after verbal and written communication, termination should occur.
- Speak with an employment lawyer prior to termination to ensure that there is nothing else that may need to be considered from a legal perspective.
- Document all performance reviews, meetings, conversations, and warnings in writing in the employee’s personnel file in the event there is a legal issue later.
- If the employee is a member of a union, there may be further considerations involved.
- Don’t drag it out – it helps no one when staff realize someone should be terminated and for some reason it is delayed. Management needs to act quickly once it’s determined that an employee is no longer suitable for a position.
There are many signs when an employee needs to be terminated. You may have others to add to the list above. Don’t forget the old management principle of hiring slowly and firing fast.
Note: This article is not intended to provide legal advice and readers are encouraged to consult with a lawyer for any legal advice pertaining to the points raised in this article.
Marc Belaiche is a 1990 CA and is President of TorontoJobs.ca, an Internet recruitment business and recruiting firm located in the Greater Toronto Area in Canada. Marc has been in the recruitment industry since 1995. TorontoJobs.ca allows companies to post their positions online, search a resume database to find candidates, provides outplacement services and full temporary and permanent recruitment services. It also allows candidates to search and apply to positions directly online and get career, interviewing and resume tips all at no charge. Marc is also President of TorontoEntrepreneurs.ca, an organization geared towards business owners (see www.TorontoEntrepreneurs.ca). You can reach Marc at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out TorontoJobs.ca at www.TorontoJobs.ca.