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Disciplining employees, conducting an employee performance review, and making termination decisions are difficult for most managers. The good news is, by following the right steps, knowing and complying with the law and company policies, and being respectful, honest and consistent, supervisors can take control of any employee discipline problem.
A proper employee disciplinary action policy not only gives poor performers a chance to improve, but also creates a paper trail of due process. Documentation is critical because in the eyes of the law, if it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen.
Proper employee disciplinary action at work and documentation work hand in hand to:
Documentation should always include:
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Many companies embrace progressive discipline because it gives them a chance to “save” great employees who may simply be going through a rough patch. It also helps protect against legal claims by providing ample documentation.
In progressive discipline, each step in the process more strongly encourages change and is accompanied by greater consequences. These steps typically include a verbal warning, a first and second written warning letter to employee (or letters of reprimand), and finally, if no improvement has been made, termination.
Fear of legal reprisals has hamstrung more than one manager confronted with an employee termination. Here are a few pointers that tell you how to fire an employee legally. If performance weakness or serious infraction is the cause for an employee’s termination, employers should ask themselves a few questions before making the final decision, such as:
In short, make sure you know all the facts of an employee discipline problem and that you consider the possible outcomes of a decision to fire. Taking care now improves the possibility that you’ll avoid a day in court.