Sonny Warbucks’ case teaches us that before you terminate your long-time employees, you need to re-read your legal law.
Sonny was dealing with his employee named Mario whose performance had declined in recent times. Mario took more sick leaves and abandoned his responsibilities, causing added expenses to the business. Mario was even unable to work cooperatively with his team and other staff. He no longer represented good behaviour and had no sign to change his actions.
Sonny, who was frustrated by Mario’s behaviour, had tried to understand the reason behind Mario’s attitude and approach him, but he still showed no change. When Sonny could not take it any longer, he fired Mario on the spot and told Mario about his eight weeks termination pay.
Mario, responding to the termination, behaved unwisely and said he was going to a lawyer. The next day, Sonny got a fax from Mario’s lawyer claiming 20 months’ severance pay, with benefits, and threatening a lawsuit. Reviewing the legal law, Sonny understood his wrongful dismissal, thus, he should pay severance money to Mario. In short, Sonny was exposed to significant damages for wrongful dismissal of firing his long-time employee.
HR department stays within an organisation to help a business grow better in the global market. When witnessing weathering employee performance, most HR leaders would choose to let go of the said employee from the workforce rather than risking and investing in “bad employees”.
Learning from the above case, consider the following advice to avoid legal trouble and huge damages within your industry when you want to fire your long-time employee.
Letting go of the “virus” of an organisation can make your industry bloom again. Yet, without the right reasons, the termination will just become a boomerang. Therefore, make your own survey of why you should terminate your veteran employees. What did they do wrong? What policies have they violated? Or what is behaviour that has a bad impact on your organisation?
Compile all the data and document them because verbal communication is such a weak proof. Make sure you also record your assistance in the process of counselling the employees. This will help you in case the employees do not receive the termination full-heartedly.
The problem in Sonny’s case is that he was not careful about his own employment terms which then costs him a fortune. To avoid the same mistake, it is time for you to re-read and re-learn your company’s employment law about terminating employees. Under what circumstances can you fire them? What should a company pay when dismissing long-time employees according to their year of work?
If you don’t have or do not find any legal termination law yet in your company policy, do make the written document now and distribute it to the whole organisation team. Making employees aware of their work ethic and employment conduct is also HR responsibilities.
For HR manager who has witnessed unethical behaviour of an employee for quite a long time, it can be frustrating that laying them off would be the best option. However, firing them on the spot will likely surprise your long-time employees despite you are able to give good reasons. Besides, firing a long-time employee in front of other teams would decrease his and probably your credibility as HR professionals.
That being said, invite the employee for a private conversation. The said employee might have done a lot that harms company but it does not mean you should treat him bad. Acknowledge him about his faults and show your documentation to him. Tell him about the severance pay and if any, offer him another possible job. Doing this would likely decrease unwanted reaction, resulting in a win-win situation.