Employers always have great hopes for their new hires, but sometimes, it doesn’t work out. Whether you’re terminating an employee because of a performance issue, a downturn in your business or some other factor, you should treat the employee with respect when it is time for a separation. Having a termination policy helps you do that and gives you protection against these two risks:
Wrongful-termination lawsuits. Even when employment is at will, business owners can still be susceptible to lawsuits. Wrongful-termination suits are plentiful in the U.S., and they can be very costly for businesses. If a business doesn’t have an employee termination policy or documentation of the reasons for firing someone, the company may face litigation from disgruntled employees or those who perceived the reasons for their firing were nefarious.
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“They can be sued for damages and back pay, pain and suffering, punitive damages, and sometimes attorney fees, not to mention the litigation expenses both on the time and money basis,” Camacho Moran said.
Sinking morale. If employees are showed the door unceremoniously, it could cause fear and resentment among the existing workforce. That could lead to low morale, reduced productivity and retention issues. But if you documented the reasons for the termination and gave the employee chances to improve, your remaining workers will be more understanding.
“Your people are your greatest assets in your business and your biggest risk factor for your business,” said Charley Moore, founder and CEO of Rocket Lawyer. “You have to hire wisely, communicate clearly and train your employees.”
Key takeaway: Having a termination policy reduces your risk of wrongful-termination lawsuits and prevents reduced morale.