Terminating an Employee? Document Everything.
Terminating an employee is never fun, regardless of how you handle the situation. Many factors ultimately go into the decision to let an employee go, and the decision should not be made lightly.
Whether you are currently facing this situation or want to be prepared for the unexpected, it’s important to ensure your organization is staying compliant. Here’s why you should document everything when terminating an employee—and how BerniePortal can help.
Do You Need a Reason to Terminate an Employee?
The simple answer? No. Thanks to at-will employment, unless you are in the state of Montana, you don’t need a specific reason to let an employee go. At-will employment is a legal doctrine that states employees can voluntarily quit without cause, and an employee can be involuntarily terminated by their employer at any time, as long as the dismissal isn’t unlawful. Some lawful reasons to terminate an employee may include cost cuts, poor performance, or treating colleagues disrespectfully.
Terminating an employee can have many repercussions that can be costly to an organization, especially when not done correctly. When letting go of an employee, you must consider federal regulations that protect employees from discrimination. Discrimination is wrongful termination based on age, sex, race, sexual orientation, or disability. Navigating discrimination law can be tricky, and thorough documentation at every step in the employee lifecycle can be helpful to protect your organization from discriminatory claims.
When dealing with a problematic employee or situation, it can be easy to jump to a conclusion to terminate their employment. However, your organization should consider many things before terminating an employee for legal purposes.
What Should You Document When Terminating an Employee?
It’s essential to communicate to employees their legal rights, whether they are a new hire or long-standing employee who needs a refresher. We suggest outlining what it means to be an at-will state in a place easily accessible for employees, like an employee handbook or culture guide.
It’s equally important to document employee performance, both negative and positive. Creating a paper trail of an employee’s performance gives organizations a leg to stand on when terminating an employee for poor performance. Tracking performance should include any write-ups the employee receives, documentation of a performance improvement plan, or summaries of any conversation regarding their behavior.
Even if an employee leaves an organization in good standing, HR should still be careful to document everything. It’s wise to have proof and expect the unexpected to avoid potential legal trouble.
How BerniePortal Can Help with Documentation
Now that you have insight on why and what you should document when terminating employees, it’s time to start documenting. BerniePortal is an all-in-one HRIS software that helps HR professionals manage their employees at each step in the employee lifecycle.
BerniePortal makes documenting employee performance a no-brainer and may be helpful if termination is necessary. Our Performance Management feature allows managers to document conversations with employees through our 1:1 tool and refer back to the notes when needed.
Another critical step in documentation is having employees sign off that they have viewed and understand company policies. BerniePortal’s Compliance feature allows organizations to upload important documents like an employee handbook or a note of their state’s at-will employment agreement and manage employee signatures. Having signatures from employees stating their understanding can save a lot of time down the road.
Looking for more resources on how to manage employee performance? Enroll in our BernieU Course, Managing Employee Performance, today.
You can stay informed, educated, and up-to-date with important HR topics using BerniePortal’s comprehensive resources:
- BerniePortal Blog—a one-stop-shop for HR industry news
- HR Glossary—featuring the most common HR terms, acronyms, and compliance
- HR Guides—essential pillars, covering an extensive list of comprehensive HR topics
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