[LTR] As an employer what is the best way to deal with an employee whom you believe no longer has a place in your organisation?

This has been an increasingly popular query we have been presented with in the last two years. Although it has little to do with the bookkeeping services we offer, it has become one which we usually address under the office administration or business management umbrella.

There is a moral answer to this as well as the legal one. What is unusual is that they both agree in principle: you should treat the employee fairly and reasonably.

This can best be done by putting yourself in the shoes of the employee you are asking the above question about, treating them the way you would want to be dealt with in their situation.

This does not mean you should forgive and forget if an employee commits gross misconduct such as theft. It just means you deal with them with fairly and reasonably.

Taking the theft example: you do not dismiss them on the spot or drag them down to the local police station; these actions will only assuage your immediate feelings and thoughts as an individual. As an employer, they fall far short.

Dealing with an employee whom you feel no longer has a place in your organisation should not be a win / lose situation (all too often this table can be turned and you can find yourself with the lose ticket) but should be approached, through mediation and diplomacy, seeking a win / win scenario where all parties agree to a common conclusion.

Back to the theft scenario, this is one of the most serious reasons for removing an employee from your organisation. Would you find it acceptable not to be given an opportunity to explain yourself, or be sacked on the spot maybe in front of colleagues and friends? Or would you prefer to be told about the alleged incident in private, be given a defined procedure which will allow you to be treated fairly and invited to a private meeting to discuss your employment?

Probably the latter, even if you have committed serious misconduct and are being charged with theft.

Even employees with less than a year's employment and even if still in their probationary period will need to be treated fairly and reasonably. You cannot dismiss an individual because as an employer, you no longer wish them to work for you.

Open a formal dialogue, structure your meetings and make sure you behave fairly and reasonably.

It is fair and reasonable to point out to an employee that their theft makes their position untenable and to treat them with dignity and respect by giving them an opportunity to explain their actions and acknowledge their mistake. They may even agree with you that they can no longer be an employee of your company.

It is not fair or reasonable to dismiss an employee 11 months into their employment as soon as they walk through the door just because that's what you want to do. Morally and legally this is wrong and quite often has very unpleasant legal and personal repercussions.

The best guide for an employer to act fairly and reasonably is to have a Grievance and Disciplinary Procedure in place, for employer and employees to adhere to.

With many years of experience in office management roles, we can help you draw up this and other types of procedures, so that you will be less exposed to the moral or legal repercussions than employers who have less skills and experience, and do not have adequate systems in place.

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