By Steven Imke
Firing an employee can cost a company dearly and therefore should never be taken lightly. There are two paths when it comes to firing an employee. The first is that an employee can be terminated for evidence-based and documents cause. Terminating an employee for cause often occurs swiftly once all evidence is collected. The other form of involuntary termination is sometimes referred to as termination without cause and follows a process of warnings and coaching.
Termination for Cause
Termination for cause is when the employer considers that an employee’s actions represented a severe error in action or judgment. The definition of cause should be something that you can point out, in either an employee handbook or a job description. Termination for cause is due to errors in judgment, or actions that warrant immediate termination. Some common examples of situations where immediate termination for cause include:
- Conviction of a felony
- Failing a required alcohol or drug test
- Harassment, including sexual harassment
- Proof of giving false information
- Proof of stealing from the company or staff members
- Falsifying records
- Making threats
- Exhibiting violent behaviors
- Extreme verbal or offensive behaviors
Most employment is considered “At-Will”, which means that the employer has the right to fire an employee at any time, for any reason. However, the terminated employee may be eligible for unemployment insurance as a result of their termination. That said, when it comes to firing an employee for cause, the terminated employee will most likely be ineligible for unemployment compensation, provided you have a signed copy of an employment agreement or employee handbook that demonstrates they violated clear policy. Since the number of unemployment claims a business has will affect its future unemployment premiums, employers that terminate an employee for cause place all the blame on the employee for the termination.
Termination Without Cause
In most cases, firing an employee is the result of following a progressive disciplinary policy. When an employee’s performance does not meet their employers’ expectations, the employer provides the employee with a warning or notice of the unacceptable behavior or deficiency in performance.
Verbal warnings are often the first step in the disciplinary process and are delivered by a manager. Delivering a verbal warning does not mean that the warning is not documented. In fact, a verbal warning is a written document that is signed by the employee and manager and placed in the employee’s permanent employee record.
For more serious situations or if the employee fails to heed the verbal warning, the manager may issue a more formal written warning. A written warning will include the reason for the warning, any prior discussion on the subject such as verbal warnings, a list of the corrective actions that the employee needs to take, and the consequences for failing to improve their performance or correcting their behavior. Written warnings are signed by the employee and manager and placed in the employee’s permanent employee record.
If the employee fails to follow the disciplinary process laid out in the warning(s), the employer …read more
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