A better way to fire someone – How to be compassionate while terminating an employee

A better way to fire someone – How to be compassionate while terminating an employee

‘Termination’ is a dreaded word for any employee – the very thought of being terminated or dismissed from service causes a lot of distress to him/her. When an employee loses a job he/she no longer has a stable income. A person in service often has dependents to be taken care of, fees, bills and debts to be paid. All this can suddenly overwhelm an individual if he/she stops earning and sends that person into shock and depression.

 

Employee termination laws

To take care of such eventuality governments all over the world have enacted laws to protect the workers. Prudent management of various organizations has also laid down policies & practices to deal with situations that result in the termination of service of an employee.

Following are some of the steps taken by companies to make the administrators, supervisors, and workers aware of their duties, responsibilities, and rights while working in that company:

  1. Incorporating in the employment letter or contract clearly worded job expectations and responsibilities as well as rules & regulations, and obtaining signed acknowledgment thereof from the employee.
  2. Preparing a handbook giving the company’s policies and procedures relating to a systematic and disciplined factory or office operations, and distributing it either physically or online. Also obtaining signed acknowledgment of this handbook from the employee.
  3. Establishing a performance management system with weekly discussions and quarterly & annual reviews.
    In the event of circumstances requiring the dismissal of an employee, following due disciplinary procedures.
  4. Having an internal checklist for management and department heads as under:
    ( a ) Do I have any company policies or procedures which help govern the employment relationship that I must follow, and whether I follow them?
    ( b ) Have I given my employee a chance for improvement?
    ( c ) Am I acting in fairness and with good judgment?
    ( d ) Am I aware of any discrimination, bias, and operating outside of discrimination?

In India, an employee may be terminated according to the individual employment contract signed between the employer and the employee, if the contract defines a process for termination. However, as labor laws supersede the provisions of labor contracts, any termination clause in the contract should be checked against law by a professional. In case there is no labor contract or the contract does not lay down a method of termination, the employer has to follow the state law.

Types of employee termination

Termination under contract

Mostly, the employment contracts specifically lay down the process for terminating employment which can be by mutual consent or where employment is set for a fixed period. As in most countries, employees who are terminated are often given one month notice by the employer or payment of one month of wages in lieu thereof.

Termination by law

In India, any termination needs to comply with central and state laws because they supersede contract provisions. Rules relating to appointment and termination of employees categorized as ‘workmen’, who are employed not in a managerial, administrative or supervisory role, are governed by the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. The act states that any such employee who has been employed for more than a year can only be terminated after permission is granted by an appropriate government office. Further, an employer must provide a valid reason for termination and pay a severance allowance that is equal to 15 days’ average salary for each year of uninterrupted service.

In the case of other categories of employees, relevant state Shops and Establishments Act is applicable. In all these cases a minimum of 30 days’ notice has to be given to the employee by the employer. Under the Delhi Shops and Establishments Act, the affected employee has to be in employment for more than 3 months. As per the Maharashtra law, the employee has to be in service for more than a year and as per the laws of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for more than 6 months. Additionally, in Maharashtra, if the employee to be terminated has been in service for more than 3 months but less than one year he/she has to be served at least 14 days’ notice. However, if the termination is due to misconduct on the part of the employee no notice needs to be given.

Misconduct in India includes willful insubordination or disobedience, theft, fraud or dishonesty, willful damage to or loss of employer’s goods, partaking of bribe or any illegal gratification, unauthorized absence for more than 10 days, habitual late coming, disorderly behavior during working hours, or habitual negligence of work. The employee in such situations also should be given an opportunity to reasonably explain the charge against him/her prior to termination. For cases of misconduct, the employer is required to conduct disciplinary proceedings as laid down under the law in India. It includes the preparation of a charge sheet that has to be submitted to the concerned employee and his / her reply to the charges obtained. This is followed by constituting and having a disciplinary panel for conducting an inquiry –

Enquiry Officer, Presenting Officer, defense and prosecution witnesses. These disciplinary proceedings have to be conducted in a fair manner with the help of relevant documents and witnesses, keeping in mind the principles of natural justice. After perusal of the inquiry report, a show-cause notice is issued to the employee and after obtaining his/her reply the employer imposes a suitable penalty which in extreme cases results in issuing a termination letter to the employee. As far as possible, the employer has to ensure that the terminated employee leaves the office with his personal belongings at a time when his colleagues are not present, preferably before or after office hours so that no undue embarrassment is caused to the terminated employee

Termination due to layoff or redundancy

When the company is not financially in good shape or it wants to make its operations more efficient by being lean or it changes its focus from certain areas to some different ones it decides to reduce the workforce or terminate the services of workers who were trained for only one area which is being closed down.

For such layoff terminations the employer has to keep in mind the following points:

  • Notify the employee of the layoff.
  • Communicate how many positions are being eliminated.
  • Clarify whether the layoff is permanent or temporary.
  • Inform the employee which employees will be targeted for layoff. In making this decision employers might consider employee’s length of service ( principle of ‘last in first out’ ), skill, experience or recent job performance. They have to ensure protected categories of employees such as pregnant women and disabled employees are not impacted.
  • Discuss whether the employer has obligations under a collective bargaining agreement or other contracts.
  • Share how the reduction is expected to affect business operations.

The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 sets out the steps to be undertaken by employers for retrenchment. An employer who proposes to retrench a workman continuously employed for more than one year, must give to the workman one month’s notice giving a reason for the retrenchment or pay in lieu of such notice to the workman. The employer must also inform the local labor officials about the retrenchment within a stipulated time frame. In certain establishments employing more than 100 workers, the employer cannot retrench an employee unless he has given 3 months’ written notice stating reasons for retrenchment or pay in lieu of notice to that employee. In such cases, prior approval from the relevant government authorities must be taken before the retrenchment is made. The compensation payable as provided in the Industrial Disputes Act is calculated at the rate of 15 days’ wages for every year of continuous service or any part thereof in excess of six months. However, in case the employment contract provides for more generous severance compensation than what is statutorily prescribed that will apply accordingly.

Severance Pay

Upon termination of the services of an employee the employer is required to clear all dues which are payable to the employee at the time of termination, which is as follows:

  • Pay in lieu of notice, in case notice is not given
  • Salary for the days worked during the month of termination
  • Gratuity, for employees who have completed 5 years of service,in respect of establishments having 10 or more employees. However, it can be withheld for employees who are terminated for a negligent act which has caused damage/ loss to employer’s property or who are dismissed for their act of moral turpitude or riotous/ violent conduct.
  • Leave encashment in case there are leaves not availed by an employee
  • Statutory bonus if an employee is eligible for the same
  • Statutory retrenchment compensation for ‘workman’
  • Such other dues that are payable as per the employment contract or company policy
  • Assist the employee in applying to the appropriate Provident Fund Authority for withdrawal of his/her Provident Fund dues.
  • Ensure the continuation of health insurance coverage of the employee & his/her dependents in case the employee has taken this cover.

Rights of employees in case of wrong termination

Employees are protected to a great degree by laws in India, and both the judiciary and the government tend to have a pro-worker stance in employment termination disputes. Hence, quite often we find employees who have been dismissed from service exercising their right of appeal. In these cases employees often challenge their termination on the grounds that there was no reasonable cause for the termination; the dismissal is unfair, or misconduct has not been established. In case the termination is held to be unfair/ illegal the aggrieved employee may claim reinstatement with back wages along with costs and compensation provided under the law.

Impact on employers

Wrongful termination or not following due process as stipulated in the respective state laws, will result in legal punitive consequences for the employer. As mentioned above, the employer may be ordered by the court to pay fines and additional compensation to an employee who was wrongfully terminated. Employers who regularly review state labor laws and clearly stipulate procedures for terminating employees in their employment contracts, significantly reduce the potential for labor disputes related to the termination of an employee. Management teams and HR heads should be briefed by employers on termination procedures to ensure protection from any adverse litigation relating to the dismissal of an employee.

Advantages to the employer for being compassionate in terminating an employee:

Regardless of the reasons for an employee’s termination, it is necessary that personnel involved in terminating an employee must always act with a sense of grace and compassion towards that employee even if the employee shows anger.

Employee termination should never be done with an overly negative tone or attitude. Employer or manager terminating the employee should avoid being rude or nasty. In such situations, the employer is in control and the employee is very helpless as he/she is losing his / her livelihood.

The employee has to find a way to recover his/ her job and life. Instead of making matters worse for the worker the employer has to help him/her realize the mistake which is the cause of termination so that in future employments he/she does not repeat the mistake.

The employer should also thank the employee for the positive things done by the employee during service and wish him / her luck for future endeavors. Advice about resources for finding new employment and also an assurance that positive response will be given to request for a reference, should be conveyed.

Handling termination with a sense of compassion and kindness will have a positive effect on the company’s brand and reputation. It will also show to all past, present and potential employees that the company cares for them.

New Year Resolutions to create a great work place in 2020

New Year Resolutions to create a great work place in 2020

New Year resolutions are mainly certain promises which we make to ourselves on the first day of the year to start doing some good activities or stop doing something bad. Mainly, our New Year resolutions revolve around making promises or taking decisions to improve our lifestyle, improve our behavior in some way or change our attitude towards certain things, etc.

New Year resolutions are not only essential in our personal lives but New Year resolutions at the workplace are also necessary. New Year resolutions at the workplace can be made by both the employers and employees. Employers can make several New Year resolutions like making the work-life of their employees more enjoyable, resolutions for improving the environment at the workplace for employees whereas employees can make New Year resolutions on being more focused on their work and compliance towards on-time delivery of tasks allocated.

Top #8 New Year Resolutions to create a great workplace in 2020

Let us know in detail about the New Year resolutions at the workplace by employers which can be made to create a splendid environment at the workplace for your employees.

1. Improve communication at workplace

Communication is the key to good employee engagement at the workplace and increased productivity as well. If there is no clear communication among your employees, there will be a lot of time and effort, conflicts and unwanted tension at the workplace. You should make a resolution to bring improvement in the communication procedure followed by your employees at the workplace. This will help all employees in understanding their roles properly and putting in their efforts for achieving the organizational goals.

2. Flexibility at the workplace

Flexibility in the workplace is important for your employees to feel free and enjoy the work they are doing. A lot of rigidity related to how they are working, when and how much they are working can show your lack of trust in your employees. You can set a resolution to bring changes in your work policies which help your employees in maintaining a balance between the various aspects of their life.

Today, due to improvements in technology work can be done by being present at any location. The value of being present at the office is incredible but you can provide your employees the freedom to work from other locations or their homes occasionally or during certain emergencies. This will increase employee happiness and increase productivity in your organization as well. Flexible policies at work, telecommuting, compressed workweeks, job sharing, etc. are some of the methods by which you can create a flexible atmosphere for your employees. This is not only beneficial for your employees but you as an employer would also be successful in reducing turnover in your organization and improving employee well-being.

3. Seek feedback regularly

As an employer, you should set a resolution to seek the feedback of your employees regularly. The feedback of your employees will be helpful for you to serve your employees in a much better manner. When you obtain the feedback from your employees, you will get to know about the core issues and you can fix them before it is too late.

Employee feedback can be obtained by organizing surveys for employees. These surveys should consist of questionnaires that help you in understanding the areas where employees in your organization are facing actual challenges. Moreover, you can organize one-to-one meetings with your employees or employee’s session with HR. These strategies can be a great approach to improving the environment at your workplace.

4. Redecoration of the office

The way the interior of your office is designed and the way it looks has a great impact on the spirit of your employees. If the interiors at your workplace are very dull and do not add any radiance, they might be quite de-motivating as well. You can make a New Year resolution to make certain redecoration or remodeling in the interiors of your office.

Cool tones along with warm tones can be used together to prevent the place from being too dormant. By some beautiful furniture, you can bring a warm tone in the workplace. You can use wood tones and tones made up of beiges to keep the place look subtle and professional. Adequate lighting is a must at the workplace and you can bring in some plants into your office. These plants will make the interior look refreshing and will also improve the quality of air at your workplace.

5. Employee well-being programs

Another important New Year resolution for you should be introducing varieties of employee well-being programs at the workplace. These well-being programs should be associated with the physical, mental and even financial health of your employees.

You can introduce health wellness programs, gym membership subscriptions, meditation and yoga classes, financial training sessions, counseling sessions with renowned financial advisers etc. These programs will be an initiative on your part to show your concern towards your employees and their well-being.

6. Gratitude and give back

Expressing gratitude is a great way of creating a positive environment in the workplace. By giving and by expressing your gratitude there would be a reduction in stress at the workplace, better job satisfaction and happiness for the accomplishment of goals. You can set the resolution for improving the process of expressing gratitude in the organization by an exchange of thank you notes and also putting up a gratitude board that can be used by employees to express their gratitude and thanks.

You can also make resolutions to start involving your employees in various charitable works. You can find out various charitable programs in which your employees can be actively involved as volunteers or participants. By providing such opportunities to your employees, you are doing a lot of services for the community, boosting the morale of your employees and enhancing goodwill for your organization.

7. Encourage the HR department of your organization to set New Year resolutions

You can encourage the HR department of your organization for setting up New Year resolutions for HRs in the organization. This is because the HR department is growing constantly and is becoming quite important for organizations. Most of the goals of the HR department are organizational goals in disguise and setting up of resolution by the HR department for achieving these goals will be a great contributor in the organization achieving its goals.

New Year resolutions for HR’s in your organization can consist of some of the below-mentioned practice areas.

a. Setting up of resolution to give positive feedback to employees regularly instead of only at the time of performance review.
b. Review of the HR policies of the organization and update them wherever necessary can be one of the major New Year resolutions for HR’s.
c. Set up a resolution for organizing training programs for employees regularly and diligently.
d. The entire HR department can meet up and discuss areas where further work and improvement is necessary.
e. Updating the HR handbook and reorganization of one’s personnel files.

8. Bring fun into the workplace

You can set New Year resolution to make your organization an ideal workplace where your employees would look forward to coming and spending time with each other. This will make them feel happy and the productivity of your organization would increase. This can be feasible when your employees have a fun-filled experience at the workplace and work-related stress is less.

You can find out about what your employees will enjoy. You can take initiatives like organizing healthy competitions at the workplace like sports competitions such as football, cricket, and indoor games like table tennis, chess, and other curricular activities. Moreover, team outings, pot luck lunches, birthday celebrations, etc. can be done to keep your employees quite relaxed even within a hectic work schedule.

Top #8 New Year resolutions every employee should make

Along with the employers, the employees should also make some New Year resolutions to accomplish new goals in their professional lives. You as an employer should motivate your employees to set various New Year Resolutions for employees. Let us have a look at some of the top New Year resolutions for employees which can be motivating.

1. To step out of the professional comfort zone

Stepping out of the professional comfort zone is quite necessary for success in professional life. There are times or a certain point in your career where your employees would like to hold on to the safe zone. But, they should be motivated to step out of this safe zone and take up small risks gradually. When they are not in their safe zone they would be prepared to take up new challenges and by this, the confidence of your employees would also increase.

So, you can encourage your employees to take up something new which can help in their career development. New Year resolutions for employees must consist of plans by which employees can move out of their comfort zone.

2. Self- Appreciation is necessary

Most of the employees keep on waiting, craving and working for appreciation and recognition from their managers. But, the most important thing which is essential for further professional growth is self-appreciation.

More than the appreciation by managers or someone else, it is inevitable that self-appreciation is present. You can encourage your employees to set New Year resolutions at the workplace to self-appreciate first when they have achieved something different or something new. With this self-appreciation, your employees would feel motivated, more confident and work with much more effort.

3. Learning new skills

There is always an endless list of new things everyone should keep on learning for professional growth. Many times, there is a lack of time and lack of proper resources or sometimes it is the lack of proper motivation to learn new things.

New Year resolutions for employees should be set for learning new skills which can be related to their job roles or some other skills which can help them to grab a new and different role at work. This can also be known as cross-training and will be helpful in the professional growth of your employees.

4. Maintain work-life balance

Maintenance of work-life balance is a common problem which is faced by every working professional. Work-life balance is very necessary as it gives relief from the stress at the workplace. Workplace stress is a major cause of many health issues like hypertension, fatigue, heart problems, digestive ailments, etc. It is quite obvious for the employees to feel irritated and lack life if they keep on working for long hours or do continuous overtime at the workplace. This reduces the focus of employees towards work, their motivation to work and even productivity.
To avoid such issues in the workplace, you can ensure that there are New Year resolutions for employees to maintain a proper work-life balance. They need to prioritize which activities are essential and which are not, how much time they can devote to all the necessary activities, etc. With time and with practice, your employees can be able to maintain a proper work-life balance which would be helpful for them as well as for your organization.

5. Stay healthier at work

Health is an important aspect of everyone’s life today. Your employees are spending a major portion of their day at the workplace and so it is quite feasible to take care of their health and nutrition at the workplace itself.

You can suggest your employees for creating New Year resolutions 2019 on maintaining a healthy lifestyle at the workplace itself. They can practice simple things for this such as carry healthy lunch and snacks to office daily, drink lots of water throughout the day while working, move out from your desk regularly throughout the day like taking the stairs instead of lift, taking a short walk after lunch, keeping their space neat and tidy, etc. These are very simple practices but will help in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

6. Minimize the use of phones

Phones have become an extremely essential part of our lives and with the current trend; people are often seen glued to their phones. With smartphones, exposure towards various matters has increased and also it helps in staying connected with the outer world, but it hurts productivity at the workplace.

Continuous use of phones by your employees at the workplace will decrease their focus and attention on work. This will also lead to a decrease in the productivity of the organization. So, you can make your employees feel this and encourage them to make New Year resolutions 2019 for minimizing the use of phones at the workplace.

7. Create professional networking and improve the LinkedIn profile

This is necessary for your professional growth and your career. You can make your employees understand the importance of expanding professional networking. They can make New Year resolutions to work on their LinkedIn profile, update the profile and add new people to it continuously. This will be of great help in enhancing their brand and would help in growth career-wise.

8. Find and follow a passion apart from work

Every individual has a passion, hobbies, and an area of interest apart from his work which he should follow. By following their passion, your employees will be able to obtain a break from stressful work life and can relax for some time.

This is very necessary as it enhances self-confidence and motivates them to perform with more interest and focus. You should encourage your employees to find out an area where they have a special interest or some hobbies, learn more about them and feel good.

Conclusion

Hence, a New Year is an opportunity to start things fresh with our best intentions and resolutions. For an employer, a new year is an excellent opportunity to motivate the workforce and create a better workplace. Similarly, New Year resolutions for employees are also important and provide them a chance to enhance their skills and improve professionally. However, be it, employer or employees, the most essential part of New Year’s resolutions is to stick to those resolutions and follow them sincerely.