While many employers are scared to take action in fear of an unfair dismissal claim or further retaliation, as the business owner, there are some remedies available to help manage these tricky situations. And, at the end of the day, it’s your business, and you have a right to have your employees performing and behaving in line with your expectations. Here’s how you can manage the situation in line with your obligations:
Tip 1: Use the probation period wisely
It’s there for a reason. Don’t wait until the end of the probation period to pay attention to whether this person is right for your business! Have regular check-ins along the way with the employee and their supervisor. Schedule the probation end date in your calendar with a reminder, so you don’t inadvertently let the date pass.
Tip 2: Be aware of ‘minimum employment terms’
Regardless of the probation period you provide, there are minimum employment periods where an employee will not be eligible to make an unfair dismissal claim if they haven’t met the minimum employment term relevant to them. Employees in businesses with less than 15 staff have to have worked a minimum of 12 months in your business to be eligible, while employees in businesses with more than 15 staff need to have worked at least six months. If the probation period has passed but the minimum employment term has not yet been met, think about moving the employee on now.
Tip 3: Provide fair and reasonable notice
If the employee has been with you longer than the minimum employment term, then your obligation is to provide fair and reasonable notice that their performance or behaviour is not meeting your expectations. You need to meet with them to outline your concerns. You must provide specific examples of the behavioural and/or performance issues.
One of the most successful ways to get an employee back on track, or to move them on from your business, is to implement a Performance Improvement Plan. This is a fair and transparent way of outlining the areas where the employee is not meeting expectations, reminding them of their expected behaviours and performance, and sets timelines to achieve mutually agreed improvements.
In the situation where a formal warning is needed, be mindful of the correct processes. There are things you must do in order to give a formal warning correctly (call us to check if you need to!).
Tip 4: Take a bird’s eye view of your business
Sometimes you may think you have the wrong person, but it’s actually the role that they are doing that’s not working. Perhaps there are fundamental issues with some of the processes or expectations which are making you think the person is not performing. Before making significant decisions about the person’s performance, it can be helpful to take a holistic approach to your business. Taking a strategic view of the business and the roles in it, may identify the need or the opportunity to change roles, streamline processes or even make roles redundant.
Do you have the right people in the right positions in the business? Can any tasks be combined to create a more interesting or challenging role? Are you over or under staffed?
If this exercise identifies opportunities to streamline roles and make some roles redundant, you must make sure that anyone terminated for redundancy is genuine and that you follow all of the correct processes, including consultation with anyone who may be affected.
It’s your business, your customers, your bills. You have the right to have expectations, explain them to staff and expect them to meet them.
We are experts at helping you manage the ‘tricky stuff’. Contact us if you need more help.