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How to fire an employee

     
6:33 am on Oct 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I have 3 employees currently and I've had about 5 others, but they all had to leave the company because they moved away. I've never had to fire anyone. A particular employee makes mistake after mistake, doesn't follow instructions well, and continuously stresses me out.

What is the best procedure to follow when considering firing an employee? Should I be issuing him warnings which he is required to sign?
5:07 pm on Oct 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

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>> I'm a big fan of just paying them for the two weeks and letting them leave immediately so it's not dragging it out.

I agree. Protect yourself and make it quick, polite, clear, and fair.
7:18 pm on Oct 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I don't know about other states, but here in North Carolina, the "unemployment insurance" goes to pay all the government workers at the unemployment office. When the employee files for unemployment, YOU have to pay it. It is complete BS. Since that happened to me, I have gone to hiring contractors. I will never have another payroll employee.
8:00 pm on Oct 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

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However, either way you run the risk of people lingering around for 2 weeks not doing their job properly because what will happen if they mess up? Gonna fire them? LOL. It can result in losing customers, causing dissent and low morale as they complain, possibly even sabotage or espionage but it's more likely when firing than quitting but I've seen it all.


I didn't say someone fired would stick around for that two weeks! I said I pay them out for it when fired.

Now, if they are quiting and turn in a two week notice, if they have been a professional outstanding employee and we need them to ramp down their work or train someone, I'll let them stay until that's done. If it takes a day, or a week, after that they are gone and I'll pay them out as if they stayed the whole two weeks. I would never do this with anyone I had any reservations as to their professionalism.

Its also going to depend on what they do. Someone with access to proprietary information is going to get an immediate exit interview and shown the door.

Blanket rules can't apply. Different types of companies, job positions, responsibilities, and laws. We're all just pissing in the wind really... the guy doesn't need our advice. He needs to get the check book out, pay an attorney as well as an HR expert.
8:21 pm on Oct 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

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He needs to get the check book out, pay an attorney as well as an HR expert.


Another alternative, which will also get you cheap access to insurance, 401k and other benefits, is to use an HR outsourcing company like TriNet. All of your employees, including yourself, become TriNet employees and they do all the HR, payroll, benefits, etc. They make sure you're in full compliance with all the government nonsense which is too much for any small business to keep track.

You just pay them and they have to deal with all this sticky stuff when it comes to setting someone free from the weekly grind.
10:42 am on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Has anyone here ever outsourced HR? It seems like something to do to avoid risk. Has anyone here ever been burned in a way that would have been avoided had they outsourced HR?
10:51 am on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I've been outsourcing HR for years, works very well. Company handbook created, updated yearly, she comes in and sits down with the employees when they are hired and present for reviews ... and also shows up when someone is fired. I come in, spend three minutes saying that things have changed and they are no longer needed and walk out of the room. She stays, goes over all the details, helps them back their stuff and walks them to their car. Never had an issue with any backlash and the stress it takes away is tremendous as I don't care if you are the worst person in the world, deep down, no ones likes firing people.
3:24 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@Tonearm

What practical items change if you use an employment agency? It sounds like they filter your applicants for you. What does the agency handle after the employee starts working for you?

At least in our state, you can let them go at any time and they cannot claim unemployment from you - it will always go through the temp agency (because they are technically the temp agency's employee). This means if someone is not working out, you can simply call the temp agency and let them know not to send that person back. If someone is already needing corrective action within the first month or two (besides normal beginner mistakes), it makes it much easier.



Why is it easier to let an employee go if they came from an employment agency?

This assumes that they are not our employee already - they are still technically working for the agency (so we pay the agency, not the employee). All you have to do is call and tell them that you don't want that person back - they take care of the rest.



By how much do agencies typically increase an employee's wage?

Depending on the type of agency and skill set, it might be an additional 20-40%. There are some agencies that work specifically with tech/programming types, some that work more with lower-level labor (pick n pack, data entry, etc). If you end up using the same agency consistently and the temp/placement agency market in your area is competitive, you might be able to negotiate the rate.



I'm curious in what sorts of ways an employer can be "burned" by HR-stuff.

I think he was sued by someone after they were let go, but he was pretty scant on the details. I'm not too sure what happened, but he ended up changing his whole employment model because of it.



Is providing 2 weeks pay upon termination a standard practice?

I think this is just more extending the same two-week courtesy that (you hope) they would extend you.
1:55 pm on Oct 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Have you considered bringing in a 3rd party HR consultant for the meeting? He'll know the laws, back you up if anything goes wrong, acts as a witness and helps the fired person come to terms with the situation in the mtg and afterwards as well as helping them find a different job (even if they're a junior)

I got help from one before and now consult him on all my HR issues. Makes life a lot easier for the sake of a few hundred.
9:04 pm on Oct 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Firing even a bad employee can be as difficult as breaking up with a boyfriend/girlfriend. It is only made more difficult by delaying and postponing. If it must be done take decisive action. Only a psychopath could do this without any emotional turmoil; however, don't let emotion rule business decisions.

Severance pay can soften the blow for boss and employee alike in cases where it was not an egregious issue, but rather a poor fit. Length of employment and type of position matter too, in deciding if this is appropriate. For an unskilled laborer (pick/pack/warehouse/receptionist) it is less common to offer severance pay. For more professional positions or longer term employees, it may be more appropriate.

Slow to hire, quick to fire is a sound business practice, and not necessarily as ruthless as it sounds on the surface.
1:00 am on Oct 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

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"Today is going to be your last day with us and here is why........."
3:43 am on Oct 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

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As a former employee who got a warning letter, I'd say give a written warning as the guy may not even realize what he's doing wrong. In my case, I quit shortly thereafter but that's besides the point :-)
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