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Employsure’s Guide to Terminating Employees.

Published September 22, 2016 (last updated February 1, 2021) -
Female Manager Consulting Male Employee Terminating Whistleblower

A workplace is a place where people come together to work towards a common goal. What happens when employees do not share this opinion, or act in an inappropriate manner and as a result business success, team moral or client relationships are compromised?

Terminating employees is never easy but there are many reasons why it may have to happen.

These include:

  • redundancy
  • breach in workplace policy and procedure
  • poor performance
  • serious misconduct

When thinking of terminating an employee, you need to ensure you have followed the correct process. Does the employee fully understand the reasoning behind the termination and have you understood the rights of the employee?

Below are some key processes to follow. However, it is highly recommended professional advice is sought before doing anything.

Implement key performance indicators

Have clear and measurable tasks for employees to meet, to set out your expectations. If these expectations are not met, termination can be justifiable and provides employers with the opportunity to discuss whether or not the employee is performing. On the other hand, it also provides the opportunity for employers to reward good performance.

Performance management reviews

Performance management reviews are discussions held with each employee periodically. They provide the employer and employee the opportunity to discuss performance and is an opportunity for employers to provide feedback to encourage the employee to improve or issue warnings should an employee’s performance not improve.

Please note, it is important to provide regular feedback to employees, particularly if performance is not up to scratch. Do not wait for a yearly or half yearly reviews to raise concerns, as this is not providing the employee with the opportunity to improve.

Training and education

Every company needs to have a strong focus on training and educating staff. All staff members should be aware of how to carry out their tasks correctly and safely, along with what is acceptable behaviour while at work. If an employee go against any of these and any significant wrong doing occurs, within reason, that employee can be summarily dismissed.

Summary dismissal is instant dismissal and can only be valid if the dismissal is due to a clear breach of company policy and procedure. For example, theft or significantly tarnishing a company brand. If employees are educated on company policy and procedures, they have a full understanding of what constitutes a significant wrong doing.

Reviewing employment policies and procedures

Implementing and reviewing employment policies and procedures can protect your company from the ever changing employment legislation. Constantly reviewing and updating policies can also protect you from situations brought on by technological advancements, such as a social media policy. If an employee breaches your policy, termination can be justified.

Following a termination process

If faced with a situation that requires termination there is a process that each and every employer must follow. Five items are listed below to guide you, but you should always seek assistance to ensure you are following the requirements.

  1. Inviting the employee to discuss. If the wrong doing stems from an accusation, ensure you fairly and thoroughly investigate.
  2. Offer the employee to bring a support person with them to this meeting.
  3. Clearly identify what the wrong doing was and when it occurred. Present evidence if required.
  4. Provide the employee with the opportunity to respond and justify any reasons as to why they should retain their employment.
  5. Document everything in writing.

If you are an employer and wish to discuss a termination process, call Employsure today. Employsure supports employers in identifying whether a termination process has been followed and can guide employers through each step. Call us today on 0800 675 700.

About Employsure

Employsure is one of New Zealand’s largest workplace relations advisers to small and medium businesses, with over 5,500 clients. We take the complexity out of workplace legislation to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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