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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

Is Your Critical Illness Cover Keeping Up With The Times?

Critical illness cover was originally the brainchild of a forward-thinking surgeon who noticed more and more patients were struggling to make ends meet after recovering from life-threatening conditions.

BrightRock

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Critical illness cover was originally the brainchild of a forward-thinking surgeon who noticed more and more patients were struggling to make ends meet after recovering from life-threatening conditions. This increase was driven by medical advances, which drove a spike in survival rates – and its consequential recovery costs – something that old school insurance policies did not factor into their products. And while we all know the medical field continues to move forward through innovation, it’s important to ask yourself: has your cover kept up?

Medical advances during the 1960s and 70s didn’t just lead to an increase in patients’ life expectancies, but it also led to financial difficulties for many survivors of critical illnesses and –injuries. Many of these patients were faced with rehabilitation costs and additional expenses caused by lifestyle and/or professional adjustments they had to make to stay on the road to recovery, and they struggled to make ends meet.

Dr Marius Barnard, brother of the famous Dr Christiaan Barnard and respected surgeon in his own right, identified an opportunity to provide these patients with risk cover for these needs. He partnered with a life insurer in 1983, and critical illness cover was born.

Initially covering only four major conditions, medical advances soon enabled the expansion of critical illness cover to many more conditions, like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, paraplegia, major burns and brain damage. Lifestyle factors such as smoking, obesity and lack of exercise have increased the likelihood of critical illness claims, but the claims are becoming less severe, thanks to improved medical techniques for the treatment and detection of life-threatening conditions.

Related: How BrightRock Is Rocking The (Industry) Boat In Only 5 Years Since Launch

Where does critical illness fit into your financial plan?

While medical and, possibly, gap cover can make provision for medical expenses, critical illness cover is instrumental in covering any gaps and providing for lifestyle changes that result from conditions like paraplegia, like the expenses involving alterations to a home to be wheelchair-friendly.

Many medical aid schemes may also exclude certain treatments or not cover them in full, or you might have reached your annual limit. In these instances, critical illness cover may just come to the rescue.

Considering all the scenarios where critical illness products have the potential to come into play, it’s important to ask yourself how forward-thinking the insurance you signed up for really is. Does your insurer factor in the latest treatments, and have they adjusted the range of conditions they provide cover for to keep up with the latest medical research and survival rates?

How many conditions are covered?

Start by obtaining the list of conditions covered by your critical illness policy, because the number of conditions covered vary from company to company. There are life insurance providers that provide cover for over 300 conditions, while some assurers cover fewer than 100 conditions. Some life cover providers also take into account the treatment, clinical impact and effect of an illness, which ensures protection for as yet undiagnosed conditions – this is the kind of cover you should be signing up for.

How do the pay-outs work?

You should also consider the pay-out structure and/or –options of your critical illness policy. There are policies with pay-out options that are helpful for conditions that involve large expenses initially, followed by smaller amounts over a number of months. Importantly, you should be allowed to make certain choices about how your cover should pay out at claim stage, when you know what your physical and financial needs are.

What about smaller events, like accidents?

Forward thinking life cover providers have also identified a need for financial protection in instances where you might have less critical, but still traumatic illnesses or injuries and spent little or no time in hospital.

Related: BrightRock’s 5 Entrepreneurial Tips For Start-ups

Just think about the myriad of costs involving corrective procedures, medical aid co-pays, hospital costs, rehabilitation, assistive devices, physiotherapy, wound care, nursing and surgery costs – not to mention being unable to earn an income while you recover from a serious illness or injury. Many of these expenses might be typically incurred just because you aren’t fully covered by medical aid schemes and gap cover products.

Innovations like cover that precisely matches your needs are done in the same spirit of innovation and matching the needs of patients as we saw with Dr Marius Barnard. So before signing up for, or selling your next critical illness policy, ask yourself: Does my cover provider do the same?

  • Schalk Malan is the CEO of BrightRock, provider of the first ever needs-matched life insurance that changes as your life changes.

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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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