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How to minimise the risk of terminating an employee

It’s no secret that a large risk to any organisation are disgruntled employees, and the most disgruntled employees are usually on their way out either by their own volition or through your own doing.

There are a few ways you can terminate employees;

  • For reasons of under performance
  • For reasons of not having enough work and the business no longer requiring anyone to do that role
  • For reasons of misconduct

In each of the above scenarios, it’s important that a proper and fair process is followed, because if it isn’t there are provisions within the law to protect and penalise employers who don’t abide by the law.

We always recommend considering each situation carefully before making a decision to terminate an employee’s employment as it should be the last resort, not to mention its far more economical for a business to turn someone’s performance around from being unsatisfactory to high performing. This would save a lot in recruiting and training costs and could be as simple as having a conversation and addressing any grievances the employee may have.

However, when these avenues have been exhausted and there is no other option but to part ways with the employee, our advice is to keep it amicable. A happy ex-employee is far less likely to have a cross to bear and a vendetta to achieve against an employer who has done right by them.

We get that sometimes, if you just pay the minimum notice and tick procedural fairness boxes in your processes, they will go away without another peep, but that is your best-case scenario. It costs around $70 for an employee to lodge an unfair dismissal or general protections claim and these can often upwards of half a year’s salary or much more in the case of a general protections claim.

So, think about ways you can end on an amicable note. Can you offer the employee help to source a new job by being their reference? Can you stay in contact? Throw in a couple of weeks extra notice as a goodwill gesture? Have a leaving lunch and get them a card?

You can’t please everybody all the time – but a satisfied ex-employee is far less likely to pursue you for ‘hurt and damages’ than a happy ex-employee and could end up saving your business a lot of money in the long term. Something to consider when you next have to terminate an employee.

Written by resident HR Guru Jessy Warn

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