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Employment termination: An employer’s guide

Employment termination

There are a number of ways employment terminations can occur.

Whether it is employee initiated through a voluntary resignation or abandonment of employment or rather through a termination for poor performance, misconduct, capacity based or for genuine redundancy, you need to be equipped with the right tools and knowledge to handle the situation with sensitivity and skill.

You need to consider:

  1. How to encourage employee ownership
  2. How to minimise risk
  3. How to avoid the common mistakes with employment terminations.

Encourage employee ownership

During an employment termination process, employers tend to focus on the ways to minimise a successful unfair dismissal claim, rather than minimise the risk of a claim being made at all. As an employer, you need to discourage claims. The key to this – employees not feeling genuinely hard done by. Your employees need to recognise that their termination has come as a result of their own actions.

You cannot get an employee to take ownership of their failings unless they know what your expectations of them were.  You need to set the standards. Do you have a code of conduct, bullying policy etc?  The business needs to set clear and reasonable expectations and then enforce them consistently.

How to minimise risk

Conducting employment terminations can be risky, yet when you follow a structured and compliant process prior to the termination your risk of potential claims is reduced rapidly. But how do you do this?

  1. Have set standards
  2. Provide informal, constructive feedback as required
  3. Seek and consider feedback from employees
  4. Conduct formal performance reviews
  5. Provide support & training
  6. Agree on goals and objectives
  7. Follow up
  8. Correct any deviations.

So it’s time to have the difficult conversation?

  • Preparation is key
  • Ensure you are referring to clear, communicated standards
  • Stick to the facts
  • Be constructive.

What are the common mistakes?

  • Not preparing with all details, evidence, etc
  • Failing to listen to the employee’s responses
  • Providing vague feedback
  • Being overly critical
  • Relying on opinion or personal standards
  • Taking it personally
  • Leaving it all for the annual review.

Keep it in your forefront of your mind that while you want to terminate an employee, taking a little bit longer in the employment termination process can reduce your risk of receiving an unfair dismissal claim. Remember, the Fair Work Commission considers an unfair dismissal as one which was harsh, unjust or unreasonable.

Ask yourself:

  1. Was there be a valid reason for termination?
  2. Have I warned the employee?
  3. Have I given them an opportunity to respond?
  4. Have I considered options other than termination?

As we all know, there are many different ways employment can come to an end. Regardless of the reason, most ways will result in a level of distress for the employee. If we aim to minimise that distress, we help to minimise likelihood of claims. Setting standards and providing feedback are the ultimate keys to achieving this. They will assist in minimising both the likelihood of claims and any associates risks.

If you need guidance on any of the issues above contact HR Assured on 1300 345 875 for a free initial consultation. We partner with employers to help them to manage their people and minimise their risk.