Even after implementing solid recruiting and hiring practices, you will likely still find it necessary to terminate an employee from time to time. And it isn't a task to be taken lightly.
Termination is a big, big deal. Not only because this action will impact someone's life, and often, their very livelihood, but when it's done hastily or without due diligence, you can find yourself and your restaurant in a world of trouble. Lawsuits, bad publicity, public backlash, plummeting employee morale — all things that can largely be avoided by following proper termination practices.
Here are 12 tips to ensure you terminate an employee the right way.
- Understand the ins and outs of legal termination.
Termination law can be fraught with plenty of grey areas, which makes it difficult to know with certainty that you're on the right side of the law. With specific legal protections in place for employees — protecting against persecution due to race, disability, religion, and age to name a few — there is a lot to consider when handling any termination.
If you have any doubt regarding the amount of potential wrongful termination lawsuits levied against employers, consider this: There were more than 84,000 charges filed by employees with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2017, underscoring the importance of understanding and abiding by all legal statutes. If you're unsure how the local and federal laws apply or have a complex termination case, take the time to consult an attorney well-versed in employment law.
- Provide an employee handbook.
Every business needs to have a handbook, whether it is a physical copy distributed during onboarding or a digital copy that can be accessed at any time via the company's intranet — both is even better. A well-designed and comprehensive handbook provides distinct protections for businessowners by outlining employees' behavioral expectations, sick time and leave policies, and potential disciplinary measures. Be sure to have every new hire sign an acknowledgement of receipt and repeat anytime revisions are made to the document.
- Take onboarding to heart.
You want to provide every opportunity, within reason of course, to help your employees thrive and acclimate to their new role and the company's culture. A standardized onboarding program does just that, but it also demonstrates your intent to provide the same resources and training to all employees without prejudice or favoritism. This, in a sense, levels the playing field for employees, giving them all a fair and fresh start with the company.
- Track and document employee performance.
As the employer, the onus is ultimately on you to ensure that employees are meeting the expectations and guidelines you provided during the hiring and onboarding phase. Tracking performance identifies areas where employees are both excelling and falling short, with the latter providing opportunities for improvement. While typically this information is first used to initiate change and encourage employee growth, it also serves as a way to document ongoing performance and behavior.
- Issue verbal and written warnings.