One of the most challenging experiences for a first-time business owner is having to fire an employee. Even if you managed employees before you started your own business, it is different when you are the business owner. As the AllBusiness.com article in the San Francisco Chronicle points out, “Finding out when you can legally fire employees isn’t an easy question to answer. Laws and cases have become increasingly protective of employees.”
One of the subjects in my in-progress book (about people who left corporate careers and started their own businesses) wrote up a summary of each of the exchanges she had with an employee who was not meeting expectations, and both she and the employee signed each document. The employee wasn’t happy about this, but it was a wise move on her part, because when she ultimately had to fire the employee, she had legitimately documented the situation.
The Chronicle article offers Tips for Termination including a strong warning to document it. It says, “If employees are not meeting expectations, they should receive written warnings, put in their personnel files. If you give an oral warning, remember to document this. Write down what you said quickly after the converstion. If the employee contiues to perform poorly, it is important to prove that he or she recieved notice from a manager.”
The article’s Tips for Termination? “Be careful about firing someone in one these situations:
- The employee has complained about harassment or the company doing something illegal, wrong or unsafe.
- The employee is 40 or older, or is part of another legally protected minority.
- The employee has a contract.
- You’ve made inconsistent promises or statements to the employee. Employees often claim that they were promised job security or a long tenure in wrongful termination lawsuits.
- Your layoffs seem to follow a discriminatory pattern.”