Written by Benjamin Lee for iqDynamics
Termination of employment is quite likely one of the most unpleasant aspects of HR management if not the most unpleasant. Besides having to contend with a potentially awkward or even hostile situation, employers also need to be aware of the consequences that arise from the wrongful termination of an employee.
This week, we take a look at closer look at the important role HR and HRM systems play in employee termination.
The term “just cause” is defined as having sufficient legal reason to take action. When an employee is dismissed, employers must prove that there is just cause to terminate said employee.
In a case where an underperforming employee is being terminated, the employer is required to show that numerous attempts have been made to discipline and correct said employees behaviour. These include issuing written warnings and verbal warnings as well as the placing of said employee under a PIP.
All of these efforts need to be documented and stored as a means of ensuring that sufficient evidence has been gathered to prove the existence of just cause.
While having a physical paper trail is well and good, physical documents have a tendency to be misplaced or damaged. Consequently, this can have severe ramifications in the event that the aggrieved employee files a lawsuit against your organization for wrongful termination.
Fortunately, IQDynamics’ HRM system allows you to maintain an ongoing file of your organization’s employees along with any disciplinary action taken against them. Thus, this allows you to maintain a audit trail of all action taken against said employee.
Introducing a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) for underperforming employees
Firing an employee is a drastic decision that should never be taken lightly and should be viewed as a last resort after all others actions have been exhausted. While it may be tempting to show an underperforming employee the door, the correct (and legal) way to do so would be by implementing a performance improvement plan or PIP.
A PIP is a type of probationary period where employees are given a set period of time to improve their work performance and behaviour. Employees placed under a PIP are closely monitored by their line managers and given remedial training as well as counselling sessions to help them improve their performance.
However, should an employee fail to improve or respond to the PIP, termination, relocation or demotion should be considered.
In order to draft an effective PIP, the HR department has to determine the type of goals that need to be achieved by the employee in question. With IQDynamics’ HRM system, HR professionals are given the option to analyze said employee’s past performance in order to come up with an effective improvement plan.
Determining the grounds for termination
Short of conducting an act of violence, it is actually extremely difficult to terminate an employee on the basis of unprofessional behaviour alone. As can be seen by these shocking examples, sometimes terminating an errant employee is not as easy as it seems.
Before initiating termination procedures, HR professionals need to investigate whether there exists sufficient just cause for the termination of a particular employee. To do so, the organization needs to ensure that the following 3 criteria are met before firing an employee.
i. Prove that said employee committed a serious infraction
Firing an employee on the basis of a weak misconduct complaint is not grounds for termination. Instead, the organization must provide evidence that he/she has committed a serious infraction.
ii.Violations and infractions are a repeated occurence
With the exception of serious infractions such as theft or threats of violence, the organization has a duty to prove that said employee has willfully committed these violations repeatedly on several different occasions.
iii. Provide proof that repeated attempts have been made to correct said employee
Finally, the organization must be able to prove that everything possible was done to rectify the employee’s mistakes and behaviour. These include conducting training and remedial sessions.
By proving all of the above, the organization can safeguard itself from any legal liabilities should the employee be sacked.
Short of serious disciplinary violations, summary dismissal of an employee should always be a last resort. Instead, HR professionals should maintain open lines of communication with non-performing employees. By providing consistent and strong feedback on said employee’s performance, they will be able to gauge how well or poorly they are performing.
Alongside this, line managers must be responsible for clearly communicating their expectations to the employees reporting to them. This ensures that employees are aware of the types of behaviour and performance that is expected of them.
Finally, should feedback and counselling fail, employees need to understand that failing to meet expectations will lead to termination.
Sacking an employee is a difficult and stressful affair. However, with IQDynamic’s HRM system, you can keep track of your employee’s performance and provide training as and when needed. Contact our friendly sales team to learn more today.