Employee Termination – How to Avoid Legal and Ethical Issues?

Employee Termination
                  Employee Termination

Employee termination could be a challenging task for managers. Not only it carries the risk of legal troubles but firing an employee could also disrupt the employee-management relationship, depending on how the employee takes the termination. Terminating an employee not only impacts the employee’s career but also his or  her family life. Additionally, it also leaves an impact on the current employees. Employee termination puts so much at stake but under circumstances where termination is absolutely necessary, the managers need to consider a lot of things and deal with ethical dilemmas. Talking about legal issues, statistics suggest that majority of the wrongful termination lawsuits have been won by the former employee.

Here are some of the best practices for conducting an employee termination that can help managers avoid legal and ethical issues in the workplace:

  1. Hold a Proper Meeting

It’s always easier to terminate an employee through a phone call or email but it’s better to conduct an in-person meeting for the same. Also, try to reduce the employee’s embarrassment by holding the termination meeting at a time and location that reduces contact with co-workers. Make a decision based on business reasons and provable facts so that you can state the termination reason clearly when questioned.

2. Have Another Manager or HR Professional During the Meeting

While conducting the termination meeting, always have someone else present with you. This not only helps you handle a bad situation but also helps in attesting what has been done and said in the meeting. Having a witness is also helpful in case the employee wrongly accuses the manager of harassment or handling other destructive behaviors in response to termination. A number of employees make false claims for financial gains or getting the job back. Thus having someone who can refute such claims gives you a sort of protection.

3. Do Not Argue with the Employee

You don’t have to convince the employee that the decision is justified. If the employee argues or demands more information, let him or her know, politely, that the decision cannot be changed. Instead, discuss about the employee’s benefits and how they can be continued if possible. Explain to them if they can avail the unused vacations or when they will receive the final paycheck. Provide the employee with brief and uncomplicated information and help him or her to focus on the future.

4. Be Informed About Laws & Regulations

Be aware of the laws and regulations regarding employment and termination, applicable to your organization or business. If required, consult with a competent HR professional or an experienced attorney to make sure that you are maintaining compliance. You cannot defend yourself at any point stating that you were not aware of the law. Invest time and money to know what you must do to protect your business and provide a fair treatment to your employees.

5. Be Consistent & Document Everything

Always be consistent with the contracts, policies and practices of your company. If the employee files a lawsuit, you could be safe if you can show that you followed a consistent process. Before deciding upon termination, review your policies and contracts to make sure that you won’t land in trouble. Also maintain proper documentation of everything. Documentation will stand as a defense in case of lawsuits. Documents regarding the employee performance and reason for termination will help you support your assertions with proper proof.

Employee termination is unarguably a dreaded job for most of the managers but following these best practices could help you carry out the job in a safe and smooth manner and avoid legal or other hassles.

 

 

 

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