Firing an employee can be easy or it can be fraught with danger. It really depends on how you approach it and if you let your head or your heart do the talking. With the current laws around unfair dismissal these days the Donald Trump approach of firing someone on the spot may not serve you well. Usually the reason for a successful unfair dismissal claim is that the employer has not bothered to get proper advice and gone ahead with a dismissal based on what they think is right.
Here are a few pointers to help you reduce your risk:
1: Make sure you have a clear reason. Is it a downturn in business, poor behaviour, poor performance or a breach of a workplace policy?
2: Procedural fairness. Make sure that for whatever reason you are firing someone that you follow a procedure and the employee has been given a right of reply, an opportunity to improve or counselling on a redundancy.
3: Involve a third person on conversations. Best tip is to get a third person in on the counselling or discussions on the situation with the employee. Let them bring along someone as well. Don’t make it a “your word against theirs” situation.
4: Have evidence. Make sure that the reasons for dismissal are clear and unambiguous. Do due diligence and investigate any allegations of wrong doing, poor behaviour or poor performance. Cover all of your bases.
5: Document everything. Firing someone and not having anything documented is inviting trouble. Workplace policy, performance review, counselling sessions, training, termination letter and any other interactions should all be documented. In an unfair dismissal claim they will be asked for.
6: Let them go ASAP. Do not terminate someone and let them work out their notice period. You’ve just created a very unhappy employee who can undermine the business in many creative ways. Also if you have an unhappy employee resign – let them go straight away.
7: Train your managers. If your business is large enough to have people managers for one or more business units, make sure they are trained on how to fire (or discipline) employees. Managers may not always care how they do things and open the business up to a potential pay out.
Think your way through the process and safeguard your business from the time, effort and money defending an unfair dismissal claim. Even vexatious claims cost time and money so cover all the bases and look after your business.
The best tip of course is to contact us for advice 🙂