The time to terminate

When is the best time to terminate for cause?

The first is after the employee’s introductory period. After that time, evaluate their skills, contributions and attitude, and if it’s not a fit, it’s a good time to terminate. Or if you can see even in the first few weeks that things aren’t working out, terminate quickly and don’t let it drag on.

Another good time to terminate is at the end of a period when the employee has been given goals and those goals have not been met. And finally, if there have been repeated policy violations, or a major policy violation such as theft, that’s a good time to terminate.

How do you determine whom to lay off if you need to cut staff?

While you have a right to at-will employment, there are some stipulations. You can’t terminate because of race, age, gender or national origin. When you look at whom to terminate, step back and make sure that you’re not terminating them because they’re in a protected class. The key to doing the right thing is to make sure that you are making employment decisions based on knowledge, skills, ability and attitude. If you do that, you are usually going to be fine.

One common mistake that employers make when slating people for layoffs is doing it by seniority. Instead of simply keeping the most senior people, make your decisions based on knowledge, skills, ability and attitude. There may be some newer employees who are excited and engaged and are looking forward to growing with the company. Evaluate what each person brings to the company and make your decisions based on that.

Should an employer get outside help when making decisions about termination?

Yes. There’s a lot to consider, and there is a lot of thought that goes into doing it correctly. If you’re not familiar with best practices, you would be wise to consult an HR specialist, or even an attorney, especially if an issue has been brewing and you haven’t addressed it up until now. A lot of times, by talking to someone, issues will come up that you just haven’t thought of. An expert can share best practices with you and help you explore your options.

Diane Crandall, SPHR, is director of compliance consulting services at ManagEase Inc. Reach her at [email protected] or (714) 378-0880.