How to Deal with Employee Discipline and Termination

how to deal with employee discipline

Effectively handling a workplace conflict can make all the difference for employee morale. To have the best results, you have to know how to effectively communicate with your staff. Mediation and counseling work well for improving employee performance, productivity and tenure.

Being a great manager involves choosing the right candidate for the job in the first place and then maintaining a fair environment for your employees to be able to do their work successfully.

When someone is disrupting that environment, it’s up to you to take action and improve employee performance. Read on to learn the importance of documenting employee issues and what to do when they don’t perform to your expectations.

Laws for At-Will Employees

Unlike a decade ago, at-will employees now have many protections and should not be fired without carefully assessing the reason for termination.

Unfortunately, since many employees that are terminated unexpectedly, they become extremely emotional and whether justified or not, often try to bring lawsuits against their previous employers. That means you need to take extra steps to ensure that your discipline and termination process for at-will employees is solid and can help you defend yourself in the case of a wrongful termination claim.

The Importance of Documentation

By documenting your past coaching and disciplinary actions, you can make more consistent, fair and legally sound choices.

Documentation is especially important because it may also reduce the potential amount of unemployment insurance a former employee may qualify for. In certain cases, especially if an employer is able to show proper documentation trail and supportive evidence, in California, if an employee is let go due to misconduct, the company may not have to pay unemployment benefits

For a past employee to bring a wrongful termination claim against you, they have to prove that the employer made a termination decision that was discriminatory in nature, that the employer willfully neglected employee rights or that the employer purposefully violated an employee’s rights.

Employees have many rights and fall under one or more protected statuses including age (40 or more), sex, race, gender, sexual orientation, disabled, veteran, pregnancy and more. To avoid litigation, establish clear policies with clear performance expectations and then address performance or behavioral issues immediately when they occur.

Creating a Record of Performance Issues

Recording performance issues not only protects you in the case of a lawsuit, but it also is a great tool for helping you manage your employees. When performance issues arise, thoroughly document everything for your records and recommend appropriate solutions that may include employee coaching/discipline, additional training or other applicable solutions that are best suited for that particular issue or employee.

Lay out your expectations and course of action that is needed so that the employee in question is clear on what they need to do to improve their situation. And always follow up when you say you will.

When All Else Fails: How to Terminate

Before terminating, always thoroughly investigate the infraction and if you have enough supporting evidence, move forward with termination. When it comes to termination, be honest and clear with your employee. Provide them with documentation and supporting evidence and make the interaction as courteous and brief as possible.

Make sure you stay confident and firm. During the conversation, it’s a good idea to have a witness in the room that can verify what took place.

Need Help with Employee Discipline at Your Business?

Improving employee discipline doesn’t happen overnight, but these tips will help you to create a fair system.

For more help getting the most out of your employees, contact us today.

CA HR Services specializes in working with small and medium-sized companies to help develop legal, efficient and appropriate HR processes and procedures that meet state and federal labor law requirements.