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It happens all the time. The stellar candidate you interviewed turned into a lazy employee or worse. You need to get rid of your bad employee as fast as possible so you can get someone new and more productive, but before you tell your employee to pack up his or her desk, you should review the labor laws to make sure your failed employee doesn’t come back with a nasty lawsuit.

Before You Start

Instead of outright firing your employee, it’s a good idea to take some steps to try to correct his or her actions (or lack thereof). Constant feedback is a good idea in general for any occasion; it not only improves the moral of the good employees you want to keep around, but it lets the bad employees know they’re not doing so well or on thin ice.

Plus, feedback is free, and employee reactions to feedback are incredibly valuable. Even if you were fairly certain you want to fire an employee, if they fail to take your feedback into account, you’ll have more evidence of the employee’s unsuitability with the company.

Making the Decision

If your constructive feedback and various steps of disciplinary action have not had an effect on the employee’s behavior, you still can’t stand up and simply command an employee to leave the office. Instead, double check that the reasons you have for desiring a split between employee and employer are valid. Ask yourself a few questions about the nature of the employee’s behavior and your responses to that behavior.

You want to make sure the punishment fits the crime, so to speak, and you want to make sure that firing this employee is in-line with your company’s previous action. Additionally, you don’t want the employee to assume that you are firing him or her for any reason other than their inappropriate work behavior; be especially careful about discrimination of any kind.

While you mull all of these things over, be aware that many companies wait far too long to terminate problem employees. If you know a working relationship is going sour, make sure to take the appropriate time and steps, but know that every week you don’t act, your company is losing money.

The Actual Event

You must hold a meeting with appropriate supervisors and human resources representatives to make sure you use appropriate language. Generally, if you have more people in the room when you break the employee the news, the more subdued the employee’s response. You want to avoid any extreme emotional response in both employer and employee.

The Clean-Up

Before you can celebrate in your office over your new freedom from your terrible employee, you do have a bit more work to do to ensure your company’s safety. Here’s a list of some of the most important and most often neglected after-termination requirements.

  • Notify the network administrator to revoke employee’s network access.
  • Receive any company property held by employee. This may include identification cards, technology or more.
  • Ascertain the status of the employee’s benefits. Let the employee know how long his or her benefits like health or life insurance will remain in effect.
  • Review any agreements made with the employee. Confidentiality and non-compete agreements may have been forgotten during the employee’s tenure at your company.

State Variations

One perpetual point of confusion regarding terminating an employee is the varying laws in different states. There are three types of exemption from federal law regarding employment (and termination), and it’s important to speak with professionals and learn what protocols you should follow during the termination process to make sure you stay well within both state and federal laws.

Overseas Stipulations

If you are a multi-national corporation, there are additional considerations to make before you kick an employee to the curb. Different companies have different labor laws regarding hiring and firing employees. For example, many Latin American countries do not require employers or employees to provide cause or notice of a split, but before a company initiates a termination, they must attempt disciplinary action to rectify any possible employee wrongdoing. Without this action, it is assumed that the company lacks any reason to fire the employee, and the employee must be compensated.

Many countries do not have such stringent laws as the United States, so most U.S. companies don’t need to worry about adjusting their protocols. However, you should still have your PEO or human resources team — and maybe even a lawyer or two — review the applicable laws and regulations to preclude you from any possible litigation.

In all, no matter where your business operates, it’s the best idea to treat him or her with the utmost respect. Even if he or she neglected to adequately complete his or her job under contract, he or she is a person struggling to get by like anyone else, and incurring legal troubles by terminating him or her irresponsibly will only hurt you both.

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