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Dismissing an employee can sometimes feel daunting but once you’ve made the decision that the dismissal is best for the business it’s important to act appropriately to reduce risk and distress for everyone involved.
If not handled well, dismissal meetings can have negative responses from ex-employees including legal action which is a greater possibility from those that feel they have been unfairly treated during the process.
We recommend speaking with legal counsel and any workplace body governing your location as workplace law may change depending on your place of business.
Once you’ve considered all the legal implications and have confirmed it is lawful to dismiss the employee. We recommend that you review the processes below in taking the final step of conducting the dismissal meeting.
Dismissal Meeting Preparation
When preparing for the dismissal meeting do the following:
Prepare a script so that you can be clear on the issues you want to discuss
Preparing a script helps to avoid being sidetracked by the conversations and ensures that you don’t forget and important steps in the process.
Organise the meeting in an appropriate location that reduces disruption
It’s best to hold the dismissal meeting away from employees to avoid additional staff stress or the witnessing of any emotional outbursts.
Ask the employee if they wish to be accompanied by a support person
You may also want to have a witness present during the meeting (such as an HR representative), but do consider the situation carefully. If they opt out of bringing a support person, they may perceive your third person as an attempt to ‘gang up’ on the dismissed employee
Review prepared documents before the meeting
Documents such as employee personnel files, correspondence and employee awards should be reviewed in advance of the meeting to help you solidify your reasons for your dismissal decision and will ensure that you have information available regarding paying proper employee entitlements, accrued leave and payment of notice periods.
During the meeting
Take the following steps to ensure the meeting goes as smoothly as possible.
- Inform the employee that you intend to dismiss them
- Explain why they are being dismissed. While you don’t have to go over every last detail, ensure that you provide a reasonable explanation
- Be calm and don’t argue if the conversation becomes heated
- Give the employee an opportunity to outline any reasons to explain why the dismissal should not occur. Take these reasons into account before finalising your decision
- Allow the employee time to vent their feelings. It’s important not to interrupt or talk over the employee
- If there are no mitigating circumstances provided by the employee, issue the dismissal in writing
- After confirming the termination of employment, move on to housekeeping issues, such as when the final pay for all entitlements will be provided
What to avoid saying
It is best to avoid saying anything throughout the process that may come across as insincere or insensitive so that you do not agitate the employee. This includes presuming that you may know how the ex-employee is feeling or that there is a bright side to this situation.
You can’t possibly know any of these things for sure, so best to stick to the formality of the meeting. This is also not a time to compare the employee to any of their colleagues. Your decision for termination should be based on the individual’s failure of performance rather than a comparison to others.
After the meeting
Ideally, you have planned effectively for this dismissal and there are processes in place for handover of work load and resourcing. Little is gained from asking an employee to continue to work throughout their notice period.
It is generally recommended that employees leave on the day they are dismissed as both the dismissed employee and other team member will feel a range of negative emotions that will not enhance their productivity or performance.
Take these steps following the dismissal meeting:
- Cancel the employee’s access to computer systems and the work premises
- Gather company belongings from the employee such as keys and company laptop
- Allow the employee to retrieve any belongings from their workspace if they wish to. If they do not want to go back to their workspace, allow them to leave and return later, or consider sending their belongings to them
- Provide them with transportation home if required, depending on the mining site this may be anything from a taxi through to flights and even temporary accommodation if the mining site had been home for an extending period of time
- If you believe the employee is volatile or hostile, you may have to escort them off the premises. However, this should only be used as a last resort as it’s humiliating and you don’t want to appear heavy-handed
- Document the termination meeting, including any comments made by the employee. Keep this document in the employee’s file (for most types of employee information you should keep records for seven years)
- Inform other employees and clients of the departure as soon as possible. However, keep the reason for the dismissal confidential. You only need to advise your current employees and clients that the employee no longer works for the business
- Ensure prompt payment of final pay and other statutory entitlement
Reference: Charles Power – https://shop.portnerpress.com.au/collections/health-safety
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