Few leaders go into the employee termination process lightly, knowing that it’s a significant step. Will you be able to handle the process fairly, correctly and lawfully and without unwanted consequences? Given our experience in employment relations, we wanted to put together a quick guide to six questions you should ask before terminating any employee.
1. Have I done all I can to speak with and support the employee?
It may seem obvious, but it will be a waste of talent and resources to dismiss an employee who hasn’t had the chance to address any issues to do with performance or behaviour. Be sure to document and address any such issues, giving the employee plenty of time to improve before making the decision to terminate.
2. Is this a redundancy or a termination?
The two are handled differently and have different requirements, so it’s important to clarify the situation. Redundancy pay and other obligations will need to be considered if the employee’s role is ending, appropriate to their contract, the Fair Work Act and any applicable industry award.
3. If it’s a termination, does it comply with the Fair Work Act?
The Fair Work Act outlines essential rules and considerations that an employer must adhere to when ending employment, or you could potentially face a claim for unfair dismissal down the track. Employees must provide the employee with procedural fairness when undertaking a termination process. They must be given a valid reason and fair notice of the reason, as well as the opportunity to respond. Ultimately the reason and process for termination must be fair, clear and reasonable.
4. Could there be grounds for the employee to bring a claim for unfair dismissal?
In Australia a terminated employee may be eligible to bring a claim for unfair dismissal if they’ve been employed for over 6 months (12 months for a small business) and earn less than the applicable threshold, which is currently $158,500 and are not covered by a Modern Award. They may have grounds if the dismissal could be deemed harsh, unjust or unreasonable by The Fair Work Commission, which is why the correct process is so important.
5. What documentation and paperwork will I need to fulfil?
Depending on the reason and process for termination, there can be a range of documents to maintain and process. This may include a formal termination or redundancy notice, any written warnings, meeting notes throughout the process and proof of termination payment if applicable. It’s essential that this paperwork is documented correctly and appropriately for the situation.
6. Do we have the skills and understanding for this termination in-house?
This final question is important, because for many small to medium sized organisations the answer may well be no. Even larger organisations often choose to bring in an experienced, impartial third party to handle the termination process and ensure the correct steps are carried out. If you are currently looking for the right specialist team to support you through employee terminations and other workplace HR challenges, contact your closest PerformHR for outsourced HR services in Melbourne, Sydney and around Australia.