The Long Goodbye – Employee Dismissals

It can be so hard to let an employee go, even when we know that they need to go. Maybe we have let it slide hoping that the situation will get better, hoping that one more talk with them will turn the page into a new chapter where they are great employees. And we wait. Then there is a hiccup…again. Nothing has been so significant that we can terminate with cause (and terminating with cause is tricky at best), and yet we don’t feel that we can keep them for fear of what might happen. When one employee is a problem, large or small, it can affect every employee. One client I worked with had one employee that was working hard and frustrated with all the other staff. Upon further investigation, it turned out that the employee who the client thought was working so hard was actually bullying the other staff and making up their own rules at the employer’s expense. In fact, by keeping this one employee my client risked losing all the other staff members and was paying a fortune in the process.

So what happens when you’ve held on to hope for so long you think you cannot change things now? It is time to take action and stop condoning poor performance and negative behaviours. There are a few options, and all have their own risks and consequences, and it must be remembered that the issue didn’t happen overnight so it may not be solved overnight either. Options might include:

  • Discipline – Progressive discipline documenting every incident and how it was formally addressed. Document, document, document.
  • Terminate – Termination without cause is usually the only option when you haven’t been documenting and don’t have a significant enough reason to fire someone. And PS, there are very few acceptable reasons to fire someone with cause. And double PS, this is not legal advice.
  • Layoff – No, don’t lay them off!  If you are just trying to get rid of an employee, you could find yourself in a kettle of fish if you try to issue a “layoff” but the position still exists in your organization.

Every option has risks and benefits and no decision should ever be made lightly.  I’ve seen good and bad terminations, and each has its own uniqueness. Connect with me and we’ll figure out what will work in your situation, bringing in additional legal advice if needed.