5 Guidelines for Hiring to Firing Due Process

Terminating an employee is never easy. It can be emotional, can affect employee morale and even have potential legal ramifications. That’s why it is extremely important to make sure you have well-constructed procedures and policies in place before undertaking any employee terminations. Studies have shown that not following due process can be very costly to an employer:

  • Terminating an employee who is paid $20,000 per year can cost the employer approximately $40,000
  • Wrongful termination lawsuits can cost an employer anywhere from $100,000 to $1million
  • Former employees win jury verdicts 64% of the time in wrongful termination lawsuits

Numbers like these can devastate a small to mid-size business. Most legal repercussions can be avoided if a company has clearly stated hiring to firing human resource policies and procedures in place and that they make sure management follows the policies and procedures. Every company, no matter the size, needs established guidelines for hiring to firing due process.

5 Basic Management Guidelines for Due Process

The success or failure of an adverse employment related issue is ultimately in the hands of the manager, and is directly related to how the manager conducts the due process. Following the five basic management guidelines for due process can greatly reduce the risk of problems or even lawsuits:

  1. Observe

Train your managers to know what to look for when observing an employee. Telltale signs that an employee may be “falling down” on the job include:

  • Changing patterns at work (i.e. unattributed illness, missed deadlines, increased mistakes)
  • Change in moods (i.e. complains about co-workers, seems irritable and/or depressed)
  • Physical signs (i.e. slurred speech, change in appearance after lunch or breaks)
  • Interaction with co-workers (i.e. overreaction to criticism, complaints from peers)

It is not enough to just observe the behavior of an employee; the questionable behavior must be properly documented. If not, it becomes a case of the employee’s word over the manager’s word.

  1. Document

Without documentation, there is no way to prove that an undesirable behavior happened. Proper documentation of the observed employee behavior is essential. Be sure the documentation:

  • Directly relates to the job performance and/or safety issues
  • Can be verified by facts (i.e. do not rely on hearsay or the opinions of others)
  • Is objective, fair and consistent
  • Is complete and accurate
  1. Prepare

After the behavior(s) is documented, managers need to make sure the face-to-face meeting is productive by taking time to properly prepare. Before meeting with the employee, make sure to:

  • Review the employee’s record
  • Review the company policy
  • Correlate how the observation directly violates company policy
  • List areas for improvement
  • List methods that will be used to help the employee improve
  • Prepare an opening statement
  • Schedule the meeting in a private setting
  1. Confront

This is difficult for managers and employees, but it is an essential step in the termination process. During the meeting with the employee, the manager must confront the employee concisely by:

  • Keeping it specific, factual, firm and descriptive
  • Showing respect, interest and sympathy
  • Asking open ended questions
  • Outlining expectations and next steps
  • Scheduling the follow up meeting
  • Signing the disciplinary paperwork

Employees have been known to refuse to sign the paperwork. If that happens, document and include it in the employee’s file. Have another manager’s sign the documentation as well.

  1. Follow Up

The most common reason why due process fails is failure to do the follow up. There are many reasons that follow up does not happen including the employee showing signs of improvement or the manager not checking the progress of the employee. It is very important to always schedule a follow up meeting to:

  • Review the employee’s progress summary
  • Document all points covered during the meeting
  • Explain any next steps
  • If needed, schedule another follow up meeting and review all expectations if there has been no improvement

These five basic due process guidelines for management ensure company policies are being followed. These guidelines also help to protect the organization in the event wrongful termination suits are filed.

Mitigate Risk with Sound HR Policies and Procedures

SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc. can help your organization develop and document workplace hiring to firing policies. Contact us at 330-255-1101 for more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our HR specialists.