Employee terminations for performance issues and RIF's

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

Employee terminations based on performance issues, unacceptable conduct, and reductions in force.

Review the handbook
When handling employee terminations based on a performance issue or an unacceptable conduct, you should always review the handbook so you’re clear on what the policy says and how an employee violated it.

Compare the infraction
Compare the infraction to prior instances involving similar infractions with either the same employee or other employees. Review existing documentation in the employee’s personnel file. Be certain it’s accurate and updated. Consult with HR, upper level management or another supervisor for an objective, impartial second opinion and determine whether disciplinary policy has been followed. If the employee termination is based on performance, be sure that you’ve gone through the appropriate disciplinary steps to give them a chance to improve.

Reductions in Force
If your company is having a downsizing or you need to eliminate a particular position, you will probably have to deal with a number of employee terminations. When choosing to discharge employees based on a job elimination, you should be careful to set specific factors which should be applied consistently and uniformly. It should be pretty transparent how your decisions were made.

Make the decisions first based on positions without even putting employee names with those positions. And then once you figure that out, then you look at the employee pool and you have legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for why you’re choosing the people to be eliminated.

If your company pays severance after employee terminations because many employers pay severance in certain circumstances, it’s important that you ask for a release of claims from the employee because if you’re paying out something, you want the employee to release claims so that they can’t come back and sue you.

And if the employee is over 40 years old, the age discrimination and Employment Act requires that the release contains certain specific additional language and meet certain other requirements in order for it to be legally enforceable.

Release documents
With respect to a release document, have counsel draft it or at least review it so that you’re sure you’ve got all of the legally required material in there.

You want to get a letter of resignation if the employee’s resigning. You’ll also want to reaffirm confidentiality. Most companies have employees sign a confidentiality agreement. You want to make sure that they understand what that means. If the person has signed a non-solicitation agreement saying they won’t solicit company employees or customers or a non-compete, you want to remind them of their obligations there.

You want to make sure that they’ve returned all company property. If you do exit interviews, you want to have a form for that and a separation and release agreement if you are providing severance. So those are possible types of documentation when dealing with employee terminations.

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

Leave a Reply


Request a Free Demo

We'd love to show you how this industry-leading training system can help you develop your team. Please fill out this quick form or give us a call at 877-792-2172 to schedule your one-on-one demo with a Rapid Learning Specialist.