Start the documentation process for employment termination at hire.

by on May 27, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

The documentation used for employment termination is the same documentation used for performance plans, memos, and other workplace communication.

Documentation doesn’t start just when the employment termination process begins. It starts from the very beginning of a company’s relationship with an individual.

Good documentation for employment termination should include hiring documentation, application, annual performance evaluations, disciplinary memos, any performance improvement plans or investigations. If you end up terminating an employee, documentation for that includes the actual employment termination form, separation release agreements if someone’s getting severance, a reminder of confidentially, and exit interview documents. Also any notes and emails of discipline that might not count as memos but that go on throughout the year of the performance evaluation cycle.

If you hiring the most qualified people, the people who are really strong performers, then you’re less likely to have an employment termination candidate. That’s one reason we’ve got applications in the first place. That’s also why you keep all the application and hiring documents.

The application
One really important section of an application is the one that asks for name and contact information for references. Checking references is very important. And although prior employers may not talk to you, often they will. And sometimes you can learn really valuable information.

You should also look for gaps in employment history on an application. If you see those, make sure you ask about them in the interviews. An application should also include a statement saying that the individual is providing both truthful and accurate information.

If the company finds out later that someone lied on an application, it will be useful and helpful in employment termination- because if you have a statement saying the application is truthful and accurate– then they’ve essentially lied on their application. So that’s the beginning of the relationship.

Performance evaluations.
Yearly evaluations are one of the central documents that employers use with employment termination. Yearly evaluations are useful for a number of reasons. For one, they are a valuable means for a company to determine whether an employee is meeting the expected standards of performance. Your employees need to know what’s expected of them and if they are meeting it. They also give the company a formal opportunity to highlight unacceptable performance or performance which is below the expected standard. Finally, evaluations allow companies and employees to map out future goals and expectations concerning the employee’s performance. This way, there are no surprises.

An accurate evaluation can be relied on in a employment termination. And in several cases, the evaluation is the key document you’re going to end up having.

Performance evaluations need to document the negative reasons for employment termination

Unacceptable performance needs to be accurately documented on the evaluation even if you feel uncomfortable about it. And most people end up feeling uncomfortable about it because it’s a really hard thing to have to do.

Evaluations should be in writing. They should be dealing with information that happened over the evaluation period. And they should be thorough.

You also want to be fair, accurate, and you want to be realistic about what you’re expecting of people. And you want to include specifics. Consistency is important both in disciplining and employee terminations. You don’t want to go crazy on one person talking about what a bad job they’re doing but somebody else who you might like a little more go easier even though they’re doing an equally bad job. You want to treat similarly situated employees similarly. Give constructive criticism if that’s appropriate. Have a structure in place where somebody else is reading the evaluations. It adds a level of consistency. That could help to avoid unfair, partial or biased evaluations, which is beneficial with employment terminations.

You want to allow the employee the opportunity to review and discuss the evaluation, to add written comments if he or she wants to and then ask the employee to sign and date that document.

Edited remarks from the Rapid Learning Institute webinar “Effective Termination Techniques -How to Document Terminations So You Won’t Lose a Lawsuit” by Alyssa Senzel October 24, 2007

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