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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.

Company Posts

Keys To Simplify Payroll Compliance

Human resources departments across the country cite compliance as one of the top challenges they face. As an SME owner, it’s up to you to ensure that your company’s personnel business practices adhere to the current laws.

Sage

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Keeping accurate records to document your company’s compliance is just the beginning, says Ania Strydom, Compliance Specialist at Sage. 

1. Why is payroll compliance so important?

Payroll is the biggest expense for most employers. Employers must comply with all labour and tax laws that govern the payroll to avoid financial and legal risks and to protect the employees and the business. The risks of getting it wrong include:

  • Censure
  • Interest or fines by authorities
  • Imprisonment in cases of fraud or extreme negligence.

Payroll fraud is one of the most common white-collar crimes in the business world; what’s more, inaccurate payments and non-compliance can cost a business dearly.

Related: How To Get The Most From Your Payroll Solution With The Sage Academy

2. What are the implications for staff if a company is non-compliant?

non-compliant-companyThe payroll is one of the most crucial links in the employee-employer relationship. Late or inaccurate wage and salary payments, or inaccurate calculations of other earnings (such as overtime), deductions (such as PAYE and UIF), and contributions (such as retirement fund or UIF contributions) can be extremely damaging to the morale of the workforce.

By law, every employee is entitled to a payslip and tax certificate (IRP5/IT3(a)). Employees need payslips for purposes such as applying for personal or home loans. Accurate and easy to understand payslips will boost employee satisfaction and trust in the company, with a positive impact on business performance.

What’s more, employers must make sure UIF contributions are correct so that employees get the full amount they are entitled to if they need to claim.

3. How will the company’s growth prospects be affected if the company is non-compliant?

While an efficient payroll system enhances staff morale and boosts an organisation’s reputation, mistakes in record-keeping and compliance can result in punitive penalties and hurt the company’s brand. Compliance mistakes with payroll can be expensive and potentially catastrophic which subsequently results in business risks.

Related: How Do I Go About Valuing My Business?

4. How can a business ensure it is payroll compliant?

South African tax regulations and labour laws are and continue to be more complex. Keeping track of all the payroll legislative requirements can be challenging, but the risks of non-compliance are high and businesses can no longer rely on spreadsheets and other manual methods to do their calculations, report and file returns.

Automated solutions are becoming more essential for keeping reliable records, reporting and performing accurate payroll calculations.

The package you choose should:

  • Be tailored for the local tax law, labour law and regulatory environment
  • Manage all the complex calculations and regulatory reporting the business must do timeously
  • Feature automated updates to ensure the company always processes on the latest software and legislative version.

This will ensure it avoids censure, fines, penalties, interest and/or imprisonment as a result of non-compliance.

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Company Posts

Why Your Employees’ Health Is Your SME’s Wealth

Absenteeism costs R16 billion annually, according to Stats SA. That’s a lot more than it costs to sign up for a group offering that is specifically designed for small to medium enterprises.

Fedhealth

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Vital Stats

Fedhealth’s Commercial Executive, Michelle Morton explains the importance of group health cover to keep your SME’s pulse strong.

1. Why is it important for a SME to care about the health of its employees?

First, when an employee in a critical role within the SME falls ill, there’s often nobody else to fill the skills void created by his or her absence. This can have a detrimental effect on the daily operations and business output.

Second, offering sound medical aid may attract and retain the right talent to the business.

Third, choosing a medical aid like Fedhealth, which places a big emphasis on preventative health and wellness, can also assist the SME owner in cultivating a healthy culture in the workplace.

Related: Fedhealth Brings Healthy Benefits to your Staff

2. What should business owners consider when looking for a group medical plan?

Apart from factors like affordability, a good reputation, and ability to pay claims, look for schemes that offer value-added services, such as wellness days where staff can undergo crucial health screenings, and programmes to address specific health issues.

3. What are the top health concerns for today’s workforce?

Back and neck pain are second to headaches when it comes to painful conditions affecting humans — especially office workers, who are often desk-bound for hours on end. Fedhealth offers qualifying members a 12-week Conservative Back and Neck Rehabilitation programme to help correct the problem through exercise and behaviour.

Diabetes and hypertension are also on the rise, while some employees face HIV/Aids, weight issues or struggle to quit smoking. Fedhealth provides assistance for all these diseases and health concerns.

4. How will the employees benefit from working for a company with a great group medical plan?

I believe it makes the business a more attractive place of work for employees, as medical aid is a much-needed benefit and costly if one has to pay for it out of one’s own pocket.

Related: Why Fedhealth Believes In The Power Of The SMME Sector

5. Please explain the importance of the SOS Corporate Wellness benefit

The Sisters-on-Site service (SOS Corporate Wellness) is a value-add as it brings basic healthcare to the office. This means that staff can regularly see a qualified nursing sister at their place of work for minor health issues, instead of having to take time off work to visit the doctor or clinic.

Employees build a rapport with the sister, as they see her on a frequent basis. Through the SOS Corporate Wellness benefit, they can also conduct important health screenings that might flag serious health issues of which the employees might be unaware. Sisters-on-Site can also facilitate monthly health themes to raise employee awareness on issues like breast cancer.

 

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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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