Terminating an employee for poor performance…seems easy right?
On the surface, terminating an employee for poor performance seems simple. It’s nothing personal. The employee just isn’t getting it done and would be better off in another job. But even when a termination is 100% justifiable, managers must be extremely careful how they conduct themselves. Terminations, no matter how clear cut, can have legal ramifications.
Most businesses are protected to a certain extent by at-will laws, which allow the firing of employees for no reason. However, at-will employment does not keep an employee from filing a lawsuit for wrongful termination and, even if the courts rule in your favor, your business will be required to pay court costs. It’s best to take a few measures to protect yourself before firing an employee to avoid a costly legal process.
Here are 5 Tips to Termination:
- Document, document, document! Detailed, consistent documentation can defeat many claims of defamation, discrimination and wrongful discharge. Great documentation shows a pattern of clear expectations on your part, and repeated failures on the employee’s part.
- Make your Employee Handbook work for you and not against you. Make sure your employee handbook and policies are clear and concise. If you just downloaded one from the Internet, chances are it needs updating. Review the handbook annually and get a new acknowledgement from employees every year. Don’t have a handbook? Even small employers should consider having an employee handbook, it ensures your employees know their expectations, and understand workplace policies and procedures.
- Make sure your termination process is fair and standardized. It should be delivered consistently no matter who the employee, in fair, non-emotional way. Don’t embellish the reasons for termination, you don’t want a defamation case on your hands!
- Conduct a proper termination meeting. Unless the employee is volatile, do not terminate them via email, phone, or text. If possible conduct a proper termination meeting. Have witnesses, be brief and concise, and document!
- Involve HR! If an employee is in a protected class, has a known medical condition or disability, has taken job protected medical leave, or if there is suspicion of any other legal issue (e.g. harassment, retaliation), be sure to consult with HR or an employment attorney before terminating.
Your business is growing! Yay! But wait.....
The growth phase of a small business can be both exciting and scary. It’s exciting because your business is growing. This is awesome! Except that you’re so busy you have to turn down new work and clients. You’re not able to do it all by yourself or with the current team you have. Sure, you could take on more business if you had more help. It seems logical to grow your team so you can grow your business.
You know deep down you need help but you start second guessing if it’s really the right thing to do. You think to yourself…
- How do I find the right person?
- Do I even have time to look for someone and go through the hiring process?
- Will it be easier if I just do it myself than have to hire and train someone?
Relax. Everyone goes through this when their business grows, so how do overcome the fear of hiring?
#1 Keep It Simple
Don’t overcomplicate the process. Put together a few check points in place of how you’re going to tackle taking on a new person and then just do it.
#2 Prepare a Job Description
Write a brief job description and make sure you’re working on it over a period of time so you have a clear understanding of what you want and need this new person to do. It doesn’t have to be a complex description. Bullet points are fine.
#3 Check References
Checking references is critical in making the final decision between candidates. Reference checks can reveal information that not only can help you determine your top choice but also can help you better understand how the new employee might transition in to the new role and your company
#4 Learn to Delegate
Develop your skills so you’re able to delegate. You need to be able to trust this new person so you don’t end up micro managing.
#5 Leverage the Probation Period
Many employers wait until the end of a probation period to assess if they’re ready to take someone on long term. The problem is, by that time it’s too late, use this time to your advantage by being proactive. Schedule regular “check ins” so you can gauge their progression. Again, keep it simple. Keep it short and sweet. Check that they know what they’re supposed to be doing and have an opportunity to ask questions. Create an environment where they’re comfortable asking questions and pay attention to the questions they ask.
By using the probation period to assess your new employee regularly, you’ll be able to tell if it’s going in the right direction for you and for them. Monitor changes in yourself during their probation period as well. Are you able to work better because they take more responsibilities off your hands? Are you still maintaining the same level of service? If the answer is yes, you know you’re in the right direction. It’s also helpful to set goals or targets for this person during their trial period. See how they’re able to adapt and reach these targets throughout their probation, instead of at the end when it’s too late.
If you’re a business owner or hiring manager you’re likely aware of who the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is. This government organization processes about 80,000 job discrimination complaints each year, many of which turn into lawsuits against employers. Your business may be at risk for having discriminatory practices without even knowing it!
For example, did you know the following about interviewing and hiring a disabled individual?
- You can NOT ask a job applicant to answer any medical questions, take a medical exam or identify a disability during the application and interview stage. The law places strict limitations on employers and if you do this, you could face a complaint, or even worse, a lawsuit. You can however ask an applicant whether or not they are capable of performing a specific job function with or without reasonable accommodation.
- After the position has been offered to a candidate, you can then ask certain medical questions or ask the candidate to pass a medical exam. However, you are only permitted by law to do this if you require that all other new employees (disabled or not) with the same job type also answer the questions or take the exam.
- Once an employee is hired, you cannot ask medical questions or require a medical exam unless you need medical documentation to support a request for a certain accommodation within the workplace, or, you are concerned about the employee’s ability to safely or successfully perform their job.
Does your workplace need help with specific hiring situations? A second opinion is almost always worth it. As employers, it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to compliance. HR Shield’s expert team is ready to help; just contact our team at (877) 636-9525.
Calling all business owners in Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Tennessee:
New E-Verify laws will go into effect in the upcoming year, some in just 6 weeks on January 1, 2013.
- Georgia: Companies employing more than 10 persons must register for E-Verify by July 1, 2012.
- North Carolina: Companies employing more than 100 persons must be registered for and using the E-Verify system on January 1, 2013.
- Pennsylvania: State contractors and sub-contractors must register for E-Verify beginning January 1, 2013 – but only if the project is greater than $25,000.
- Tennessee: Companies employing more than 5 persons must register and begin using E-Verify by January 1st.
E-Verify is an internet-based system that compares information from Form I-9 to government records to confirm that a potential employee or current employee is authorized to work in the United States.
Form I-9 has always been mandatory, whereas E-Verify has traditionally been voluntary for most businesses. With recent I-9 law updates, businesses within the abovementioned 4 states will need to collect an employee’s Social Security number and E-Verify all candidates before employing.
As a reminder, with HR Shield, you get instant access to all the information, training, forms and expert advice you need to keep employees safe, stay compliant and protect your bottom line. We’ll help you identify exactly which regulations you need to satisfy and what you need to do to stay compliant across the board including:
- Workers Comp
- Sexual Harassment
- Fair Labor Standards Act
- I-9 compliance (and now E-Verify!)
- Overtime Exemption (Job Classification)
- Record Keeping Laws
- Unemployment claims
- Family Medical Leave Act
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEO) Reporting
You may have recently noticed on the top right corner of Form I-9 that its expiration is near! All U.S. employers must complete and retain a Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This includes citizens and noncitizens, and is mandated by the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or USCIS.
What do you do?! Where do you find the new form?!
At this time, and until further notice, business owners are instructed to continue using the Form I-9 currently available on the forms section of http://www.uscis.gov. This form should continue to be used even after the expiration date of August 31, 2012 has passed.
USCIS will provide updated information about the new version of the Form I-9 as it becomes available, and business owners can subscribe to I-9 Central to receive Form I-9 updates. Once the form is available, it is the employer’s responsibility to file the new form with each new employee.
HR Shield will also be updating its members when this new form is made available. HR Shield makes hiring employees easier with job interview tips, employee compensation advice, and HR compliance management including I-9 employment eligibility verification.
Get on board and sign up now online, or call (877) 636-9525 for more information.