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Firing an employee – how to do it in the right way

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Let’s be honest, firing an employee is never an easy thing to do. But, there are times when it’s a necessity. The most important thing is that you follow correct procedures when you begin to experience problems with an employee. The procedures you follow will be different, depending on the problem. For instance, if one of your employees assaults a colleague in the workplace, this is an example of serious misconduct, which would normally lead to a more immediate dismissal than an issue with the work quality.

Most dismissals are not due to serious misconduct, so we will look at what you should do if there is a less serious issue with an employee, such as poor work quality or low productivity. In these cases, the employee should never be shocked at being fired. They should know what is coming.

Discussing the problem with the employee

If you are having problems with an employee, you should never just ignore the issue. The situation is unlikely to improve by itself. You need to speak to the person involved and explain your concerns. During the discussion, you should clarify what is expected for no further action to be taken. It could be that this chat is all that is needed to encourage the employee to improve. If the problems persist, you will need to take formal action.

Taking formal action

Your business will have a system in place for taking formal action against employees. For instance, you may need to issue a verbal warning, followed by a written warning, if no improvements are made. It’s a good idea to speak to your Human Resources (HR) team, to make sure that you have all of the steps of the process in place.

There are also certain aspects of local and national legislation that it helps to be aware of. It’s a good idea to speak to experts if there are any concerns during the disciplinary process, including the decision to dismiss. If you make any mistakes, the business could end up being subject to legal action, by the employee, in the future.

Preparing for the dismissal meeting

If you follow the correct procedures and no improvements are made, there will come a time when dismissal is necessary. At this point, you need to make sure you are prepared for the meeting.

  • Make sure you have all the supporting paperwork and evidence ready.
  • Choose a time that is least disruptive to the business.
  • Make sure you have a private space booked for the meeting.
  • Arrange for another manager, or a member of the HR team, to attend the meeting with you.
  • Arrange for the meeting to be documented.
  • Practice what you are going to say to reduce nerves.

Doing all of this preparation helps to make the meeting easier for you. When it comes to the meeting itself, keep it as short as possible and stick to the point. It’s fine to be empathetic but do not try and sympathise. Keep things professional at all times, but do not be too severe in your approach.

It’s a good idea to arrange for the employee to clear out their desk after hours. You should then arrange for them to hand in any keys or security passes and be escorted from the building.

Firing an employee is something you need to do correctly if you want to avoid potential legal issues.

Ensure that you know the procedures inside out and that you have the support of senior managers and HR professionals when you need it.

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