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Labour Complexity

Have To Terminate An Employee? Here Are 5 Best Practices

Important points include minimising the departing staffer’s embarrassment – and keeping an eye on his or her actual departure.

Doug and Polly White

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Terminating an employee is one of the most difficult things to do in business. But, sometimes it’s necessary. When that happens, we suggest you follow a few best practices that are applicable regardless of the reason for the termination.

1. Minimise the employee’s embarrassment

Hold the termination meeting at a time and location that will reduce the likelihood of contact with the employee’s co-workers. Hold the meeting at the end of the day and allow the employee to pack up his or her personal items after others have gone home.

Make sure you, or someone you trust, stays with the terminated employee at this point.

Don’t allow the terminated employee to touch the company computer or throw documents away. We kept a newly terminated employee from destroying what later became evidence by not allowing her to “straighten her desk” and “shut down her computer.” The employee tried several times, arguing that she wouldn’t feel right if she left things in a mess.

We discovered her embezzlement three days later. If we had let this trusted employee pack up her own things, we probably never would have discovered her crime.

Related: Should You Fire an Employee Who Lies?

2. Don’t spend time debating your decision with the employee

If the employee requests more information or wants to argue about the termination, politely tell him or her that the decision has been made and that it is not changeable.

You aren’t going to convince the employee that the termination is justified. Don’t waste time trying.

Instead, turn the conversation to next steps. Explain what will happen to the employee’s benefits and if and how those benefits can be continued. Tell the employee if he or she is entitled to any unused vacation pay.

Explain when the final pay cheque and any severance payments will arrive. Try to keep this information brief and uncomplicated.

Understandably, most employees have a hard time focusing on details at this time. However, talking about them may help the employee focus on the future.

apologising-for-firing-an-employee

3. Don’t apologise for your decision

We’ve heard too many managers say, “I’m sorry that I have to let you go.” But this won’t help the employee. It may make you feel a bit better, but it’s confusing to the employee, especially in a for-cause termination. In one termination meeting we know of, an employee responded this way to his manager’s comment: “If you are so sorry, pick someone else to fire.”

Sometimes, it helps to write out exactly what you plan to say. We are not suggesting that you read the statement to the employee. However, the act of writing can help you think through exactly what you want to say. In addition, the document can serve as notes during the meeting.

4. Have another manager, owner or HR professional present for the meeting

Having someone else present can help to diffuse a bad situation and give you a witness who can attest to what was said and done at the meeting.

In one particularly emotional termination, Polly had to physically step in between an angry employee and the manager. The employee was becoming aggressive and threatening. However, once Polly diverted the employee’s attention away from the manager, the employee was able to calm down and focus on next steps.

In that case, having a second person at the meeting probably saved the employee from an assault and/or battery charge.

The other reason to have a witness is the increasing number of employees falsely accusing their managers of harassment, retaliation and other behaviours in response to termination. Since 2000, the number of claims filed each year with the EEOC has roughly doubled. Retaliation represents about 38 percent of these claims, topping the numbers for both race and gender discrimination claims.

Related: Finding, Hiring & Delegating to Your Management Team

Without someone else to refute the claim, employees can say that they were terminated in retaliation for turning down sexual advances, for whistleblowing or for making a legitimate complaint – among other reasons.

Employees may make false claims in the hope of either financial gain or gaining a job back in return for dropping the claim. So, having a witness at the termination meeting will give you some degree of protection.

5. Make sure you know the employment laws for your state and industry and for your organisation size

State laws vary, and the number of employees in your organisation affects what laws apply to your business. Check with an employment law attorney or a competent HR professional to ensure you are compliant.

We have all heard the line, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” Spend the time and money to learn what you need to do to treat your employees fairly yet still protect your business.

In our experience, employees are becoming more educated in the laws that govern employment. Don’t wing it. They aren’t.

We know that terminating an employee is always tough, but following these suggestions can make a difficult situation more manageable.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Doug and Polly White own Whitestone Partners Inc., a management-consulting firm that specializes in helping small businesses grow profitably. They are also co-authors of Let Go to GROW, a bestselling book on why some businesses thrive and others fail to reach their potential.

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Company Posts

Why HR Legislation Compliance Can Curb Business Failure

Don’t let your business reputation get dented due to non-compliance.

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HR Legislation Compliance

HR Legislation Compliance

Vital Stats

Millennium Support Services is designed to afford all business enterprises the opportunity to have Human Capital Management for their business.

“It is just unfortunate that non-compliance is exactly that “non-compliance” and most small businesses reputation gets dented or even fully destroyed, in the event that they are being accused of non-compliance by employees and statutory bodies” says Sharon Tshabalala CEO of MSS.

“Small businesses have no resources yet at the same time are not exempted from compliance. So, through the use of technology we are able to provide easily accessible HR services across the board.”

Related: Human Resources Management Demystified

Millennium Support Services provides businesses with exclusive distinctions of its service, so that you can ensure that your business remains compliant.

Human Resource Policies

human-resource-policies

The advantage it has over other online HRM systems is that it offers online access to Human Resource policies based on approved legislative framework.

1Independent Representation

In cases where disciplinary proceedings have to be under taken, an independent chairperson will be made available. When disputes have been escalated to the CCMA, a Labour Relations Expert will represent the employer.

2Disciplinary Policy

The primary purpose of discipline is to encourage employees to correct their conduct and/or discourage employees from breaching standards of conduct. Depending on the nature of the breach, there are five forms of disciplinary sanctions taken against employees – either formal or informal.

Namely: Verbal Warning, Written Warning, Final Written Warning, Suspension of Salary and finally Dismissal.

3Grievance Policy

The purpose of this policy is to give guidance and to provide a framework on how to raise and deal with grievances effectively at the earliest possible stage. There are three types of Grievance which have an informal/formal procedure.

Namely: Mild Grievance, Serious Grievance and Sensitive Grievance.

Related: Is Leveraging Your Resources Getting The Job Done Properly?

4Occupational Help Policy

The purpose of this policy is to establish minimum standards and requirements of occupational health and safety for the corporation in order to reduce the risk by:

  • Identifying hazards and possible risks causing incidents and accidents,
  • Setting standards of practice, procedures and accountability,
  • Measuring performance against standards, Evaluating compliance with standards,
  • Correcting deficiencies, deviations, and set standards of procedures to be followed,
  • Creating and maintaining a healthy and a safe work environment.

HR management is a specialist field, with many laws and regulations to navigate. If you don’t have a background in this field and can’t afford to hire a full-time HR specialist, consider outsourcing this function.

Millennium Support Services – Human Capital Management made easy.

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Company Posts

Will A Strike Cripple Your Business?

Strikes can cause a drop in productivity; ensure you have a staffing solution to see you through uncertain times.

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Strikes can cause a drop in productivity; ensure you have a staffing solution to see you through uncertain times.

South Africa’s economy has become very competitive and losing business to a competitor could be a serious blow. When employees strike, your business is likely to lose money due to delayed services and lost production time.

Businesses with advanced strike management policies and planning in place have a higher success rate in avoiding potential losses due to strikes. Workforce Staffing is a staffing partner that protects your Return on Human Investment during these challenging circumstances.    

Related: Finding Your Staffing Partner

Do you have a Strike Contingency Plan?

When 400 staff members unexpectedly decide to strike at dawn, you need a staffing partner that will arrange for capable and reliable staff members to take their place, that same day.

You will need:

  • A reputable staffing provider that knows how to liaise with authorities to establish a safe production environment for your staff.
  • Legal assistance in organising interdicts and disciplinary hearings, making sure you follow due process to shorten the strike period as much as possible.
  • Experienced hands in successful contingency planning and efficiency to keep your business productive even during industrial.

One of the biggest concerns for businesses is the amount of time and money that’s squandered due to absenteeism when employees strike.

Barend Matthee, Northern Cape Regional Director for Workforce Staffing, explains that using contract workers for a project will allow for cost-savings as workers will only be paid for the duration of the project. The principle of “no work, no pay” will apply.

“Optimisation of contract workers through Workforce Staffing’s understanding of various on-boarding processes, including medicals, inductions, etc., allow for quick turnaround times on replacement staff, as well as the opportunity for contract workers to be circulated to various other clients or tasks,” notes Matthee.

Related:Organisational Behaviour Expert Siphiwe Moyo’s Insights Into Keeping Your Employee’s Motivated

This holistic approach allows for good time- and resource management on projects.

Outsourcing staff also provides you with a temporary workforce that has the required skills and experience to meet your company’s changing needs.

An expert staffing provider will ensure that your projects are fully-staffed and up-and-running within a short space of time, saving both time and money. 

Workforce Staffing calms the storm with its: 

  • Critical experience in striking situations
  • Solid infrastructure and resources, mitigating your risk
  • Legal consultation on processes and services
  • Logistics management like transport, labour, compliance, worker induction and contingency sites
  • Provision of ongoing labour to maintain your service levels
  • Facilitation of continuous communication between all stakeholders

Workforce Staffing has the experience and infrastructure to mitigate your risk:

  • Receive Support from its NATIONAL BRANCH NETWORK
  • Enjoy HR AND IR INDUSTRY SPECIALISTS expertise
  • Receive a CONTINGENCY WORKFORCE quickly and effectively

Contact them today to retain maximum productivity. 

087 135 8888  |  info@workforce.co.za  |  www.workforcestaffing.co.za

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Labour Complexity

Cover All Your Bases When It Comes To Employment Agreements

Employment agreements are amongst the most important agreements a company will ever enter into.

Kyle Torrington

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employment-agreements-covered

There are two pieces of legislation that employers of large labour forces need to be familiar with, and which set out the basic entitlements of employees: The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (the BCEA) and the Labour Relations Act.

Most considerations listed below are regulated by these two Acts, particularly the BCEA.

Let’s explore five of the most important considerations when it comes to employment agreements.

1Confidentiality & restraint of trade

Protecting the confidential information of your business is extremely important and you should secure customised provisions relevant to your business and industry to ensure that you are appropriately protected.

To protect confidential information and unlawful competition, include a confidentiality and restraint of trade clause in an employment agreement.

This seeks to prevent employees from using your confidential information for their own gain, or prevent them from working with certain of your customers, or in a competitive field of trade for a certain period and within a defined geographic area, after the employee leaves your company.

Related: What The Law Says About Employee Leave And Absence

employee-terminating-contract

2Termination of employment

The BCEA sets out the following:

  • If an employee is employed for four weeks or less, at least one weeks’ notice of resignation is required
  • If an employee is employed for more than four weeks but less than one year, at least two weeks’ notice of resignation is required
  • If an employee is employed for one year or more, at least four weeks’ notice of resignation is required.

For employees whose position in the company is crucial to its success, or requires a lot of expertise to fulfil, employment agreements may allow for three months’ notice.

3Employee duties & responsibilities

This is real nuts and bolts stuff, and differs vastly from employee to employee — why did you employ this person? What do you expect them to do daily, monthly and annually?

These duties and responsibilities need to be recorded in an employment agreement so that both the employer and employee understand exactly what is expected of them and there is an agreed upon foundation for the relationship between the employee, the company and its structures.

4Hours of work per week

The BCEA prescribes a maximum of 45 working hours per week for normal time work. Where an employee meets certain exemptions, this will not apply, and must be negotiated with the employee and included in the agreement.

The BCEA has set the maximum allowed overtime at ten hours weekly. Employees are generally entitled to meal and tea breaks, but these are not included in the 45 hour work week, and are generally unpaid. 

Related: Apply for Leave – From Your Smartphone

employee-leave

5Leave

Annual leave

The annual leave granted to an employee may not be less than 21 consecutive days for full-time workers, or by agreement, one day for every 17 days worked, or one hour for every 17 hours worked.

Annual leave must be granted not later than six months after completion of twelve months of employment, and must be on full pay.

Sick leave

During every sick leave cycle of 36 months, an employee is entitled to an amount of paid sick leave equal to the number of days he or she would normally work during a six week period. For example, should an employee work five days per week, they will be entitled to 30 days’ sick leave over a three year period, or ten days per year.

During the first six months of employment, however, an employee is entitled to a single day’s paid sick leave for every 26 days worked.

Maternity leave

A female employee is entitled to at least four consecutive months’ maternity leave.

The maternity leave commences four weeks before the expected birth, or when a medical practitioner certifies it as being necessary for the health of the employee or unborn baby. An employee is not allowed to work for at least six weeks after the birth, unless a medical practitioner certifies that she is fit to do so.

Protect your business and employees

Properly drafted employment agreements that protect your business and its assets are crucial in preventing costly litigation and CCMA hearings.

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