Employee Discharge and Documentation

HR Resource
October 16, 2012 — 2,551 views  
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Employee Discharge and Documentation

Although termination of employees is among the least pleasant tasks faced by human resources professionals, it is sometimes necessary for the financial health of the business. Excessive absenteeism, drug or alcohol use while on the job or engaging in practices that put the other employees at risk are all legitimate reasons for terminating an employee. Avoiding complicated legal repercussions after an employee is discharged will be easier if the human resources department has been meticulous about employee documentation. Termination should be the last resort after attempts have been made to allow the employee change the behavior that is creating the problem. 

Wrongful termination suits can be brought against businesses by discharged employees, and businesses that can prove in court that they had given the employee the chance to correct the problem are more likely to obtain rulings in their favor. Employee documentation of events leading up to the termination is essential for winning such cases. Effective human resources personnel keep clear and consistent records for all employees, particularly when it seems as if it may become necessary in the future to discharge a particular employee.

Preliminary disciplinary actions requesting that the employee make adjustments to avoid being discharged should always be documented in writing with as much detail as possible. Precise dates and even times of day should be carefully noted. This will prevent the employee from being able to claim that he or she was discharged without advance warning. It's important that the employee sign all of the documentation pertaining to disciplinary action. In the event that the employee refuses to sign, the human resources professional should ask a trustworthy witness to sign the paper as well as make a notation that the employee declined to sign. 

If the objectionable behavior persists on the part of the employee, it may be necessary for the human resources department to issue a final written warning. This will serve as one last chance for the employee to retain his or her job by amending the behavior as well as provide ample proof to the courts that every effort was made to make it possible for the employee to avoid discharge. 

If it becomes necessary for a notice of discharge to be written, it should carefully mention all prior notices, warnings and attempts to allow the employee ample opportunity to remain employed with the company. By covering all bases, human resources can prevent costly lawsuits from terminated employees.

 

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