Despite how an employment relationship ends, it may be difficult going your separate ways with an employee who devoted a number of years to your organization. However, discipline, separation and termination policies can ensure a seamless transition for both the employee and your organization. Documenting the company policy for discipline, separations and terminations also ensures consistency in they way these situations are handled. This will go along way in mitigating risk your company might have resulting from claims of unfair employment practices related to discipline, resignations, employee discharges, layoffs or reductions in force.
Here is the truth, employees are going to make mistakes, break the rules, and test the waters, from time to time. Knowing how to handle these situations will go along way in getting them resolved quickly and with no incident.
Whether you are creating a case for discipline or planning on terminating an employee, keeps these four important points in mind:
- Documentation: Make sure that you have clear and objective documentation of the incident. Start your investigation by identifying everyone involved and any witnesses. Speak to and document the points of views to pice together the most accurate picture possible
- Stay Objective: Remember to remain objective, you are dealing with the facts only. If you let personal feelings get involved or let them cloud your decision making process, you may be removed from investigating issues in the future, remember it is your job to look at all angles.
- Maintain Confidentiality: The incident must remain confidential. When you conduct your investigation, remind all parties involved and interviewed that this is confidential. Make sure they understand that failure to keep this confidential may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.
- The Punishment Must Fit the Crime: The information received regarding the incident, must support the disciplinary action being given to the employee. You don’t suspend an employee for five days without pay because they were 10 mins late. The punishment must fit the crime.
Creating separation and termination policies first requires definitions for employment actions to distinguish among changes to employee status that sound similar but have different outcomes.
- Separation means the employee’s relationship with your company ended. This term can be used to describe voluntary resignations, involuntary terminations, retirement and layoffs.
- Termination many companies use this term when the employment relationship ending is initiated by the company. In this case, it means the employee was fired.
- Reduction in Force – other words that mean the same thing is layoff and job elimination.
- Resignation means the end of an employment relationship was initiated by the employee and is voluntary.
- Mutually Agreed Separation – these separations are used when both parties have come to the conclusion that the employment relationship is not working. These types of agreements usually come with an severance arrangement contingent on the employee signing a liability waiver