As a small business owner, you may find yourself called upon to fire an employee from time to time. This is never an easy situation, so it's important to have proper procedures and guidelines in place. Your workers should have unambiguous expectations of what you expect from them. You should have a feedback mechanism in place for workers who aren't performing well, and you should outline the steps that may lead to dismissal if performance issues are not resolved. A lawyer with experience in business law can help you draft these types of contingency plans.
Regular performance evaluations are useful for all workers because they let your workers know when their job performance is meeting your expectations. Evaluations are a particularly valuable mechanism for an under-performing worker because they enable you to present a clear set of objectives that must be satisfied if he or she can continue to work with you. It's best to describe performance goals clearly, objectively and quantitatively so that there's no ambiguity over whether or not the goals have been met. It's critically important, too, to document all workplace deficiencies and other employment-related issues.
The Termination Notice
Protect yourself by having a termination protocol in place even if you never need to invoke it. A smart employer will consult his or her legal counsel before delivering any kind of termination notice. Disgruntled employees often cite discrimination when they're terminated, so it's important to make sure any termination notice addresses the specific reasons you're letting that employee go in detail. Be respectful to your employee throughout the termination process, but make it clear that your decision to terminate is not subject to negotiation.
Cleaning Up Afterwards
Once you've discharged an employee, make sure to cut off his or her access to any company websites or servers. Safeguard your business's confidential data by changing all passwords as soon as possible. Vetting your termination protocols with the assistance of an experienced business attorney can go a long way toward shielding your company from harm under these circumstances.