In most cases, the human resources department deals with all aspects of employee relations, unless you are a small business and do not have enough staff to justify the expense of having an HR staff. So if you find yourself in this position, what can you do? Employment policies help keep employees from being confused about the company’s culture and expectations, avoiding a chaotic work environment.
The employment section of your company manual should include items such as:
- Nature of Employment (At Will statement)
- Outside Employment
- Access to Employment Records
- Employment Categories
- Job Descriptions
- Performance Management Programs
- Progressive Discipline
The Company Code of Ethics is particularly important because it tends to vary from person to person. By outlining what constitutes good behavior in your company, employees know what’s expected of them.
Addressing an employee’s behavioral issues can be a challenge. Although a number of states allow companies to terminate an employee at will — without specific cause — the companies themselves may follow a progressive discipline policy, which consists of a series of escalating steps in a process that clearly outlines the steps an employee must make in his behavior to avoid facing termination. An example of progressive discipline can be:
- Verbal Warnings
- Written Warnings
- Performance Improvement Plans
Employees are protected by a progressive discipline system in a number of ways.
- In states that allow employers to dismiss employees without cause, a progressive discipline system enables employees to keep their jobs while working to improve their workplace behavior.
- This policy also ensures that the proper procedure takes place for everyone, no employee can be treated differently, either by being abruptly terminated or by not having his or her behavior addressed appropriately.
- Employees who make mistakes in the workplace are provided specific direction that gives them the opportunity to rectify the situation and move forward.
Terminating employees no matter what the circumstance is never an easy task. But you can provide at least some support to the workers you have let go of by providing them with benefits that can ease their stress. Ensure that the newly terminated worker understands exactly which benefits they can rely on, this can include:
- Severance Package (always make sure there is a general release attached)
- COBRA (continuation of medical benefits)
- Unemployment Insurance (you can include your state’s booklet) http://www.servicelocator.org/OWSLinks.asp
For more information about Progressive Discipline and Proper Termination Techniques, including a full menu of forms and guidelines please see the “Termination and Discipline” section of this site