As a manager or CEO, it is usually your responsibility to tell an employee that their services are no longer required. But dismissing staff isn’t as straightforward as it seems.
Can I dismiss an employee for poor performance?
There are certain procedures that should be followed and questions you should ask yourself before releasing an employee, even if their performance is in question.
How to fire someone for poor performance: f ollow a process
If you notice that there are early signs of an employee struggling, causing disruption or not living up to the working standards, approach them. Either a verbal conversation in the office or a written email to explain the situation and how you’re not happy with their work should be the first step.
Being strong will enable them to see how serious you are and hopefully improve their work ethic or results. If things continue, a final warning should be put into place. If it continues again, make the decision to release them. When inviting a member of staff to a disciplinary meeting, they should be given no less than 24 hours and be offered the opportunity to bring a representative with them.
During the meeting, explain the evidence you have gathered and allow them to reply. But remember, this is still your decision and you need to be thorough throughout. If you have a policy and process in place, this must be adhered to. A common loss in tribunal is because you haven’t followed your own policy or been consistent
Be firm when dismissing an employee for poor performance
As the owner of a business, it should be in your best interest to grow and expand as much as possible and if an employee isn’t helping you to achieve this, then their services should no longer be required. Releasing an employee isn’t something that is done light heartedly.
If you feel a member of staff isn’t contributing as much as they should, make the decision sooner rather than later. Explain how you’re appreciative of the work they’ve carried out, but the results haven’t been to the standard you wished, or their behaviour isn’t suitable for the working environment.
It’s important to accept the fact that some employees will take this personally and will be upset. But you need to stay firm and trust your judgement. After all, you’re making the decision for the business.
On many occasions there have been instances with staff that have been let go, leading to them being taken to employment tribunal lawful. Cover yourself. Write down any evidence of issues with examples to show why they have been released. Likewise with office conversations, anyone can record voice notes on a smartphone that could be used against you at a later time.
Whilst covert recording cannot be avoided in all cases, employers may find it helpful to state in their procedures and at the start of any meeting that recording is prohibited and ask the employee to confirm for the notes that they are not recording the hearing.
Re-think exactly how you’re going to approach the situation and ensure you have evidence to support your decision. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
This also leads onto the two year rule. If you dismiss an employee who has been there for longer than two years, they have the right to claim unfair dismissal. An employer must ensure the grounds for dismissal fall within one of these five reasons, misconduct, capability, redundancy, illegality and ‘some other substantial reason’.
If they decide to follow this through, it is vital that you’re prepared to give evidence of your choice to help move on from the situation as quick as possible. Another option to consider is ‘settlement agreements’ they are legally binding contracts which can be used to end an employment relationship on agreed terms.
They can also be used to resolve an ongoing workplace dispute, for example, a dispute over holiday pay. Either an employer or an employee can propose these agreements, although it will normally be the employer.
Hire a specialist to help with a poor performance dismissal
It’s natural for a manager to pass this duty onto a HR professional who takes the responsibility for employing and firing staff. Using someone who is experienced in the HR industry will save you time and the worry of hurting an employee’s feelings. They will also be on hand to offer any advice, should you be seeking it.
Gideon Schulman is HR director at Pytronot.