“It is your business, why can’t you hire and fire as you please?”
Employees can easily file for wrongful termination. Each process should give the employee a fair hearing and clear reasons for termination.
Legally, this is described as firing for “cause”. Before we delve into acceptable reasons for termination, it’s important to take note of the following reasons deemed as wrongful termination:
- Discrimination by race, colour, sex, tribe, religion, political opinion or affiliation, national extraction, nationality, social origin, marital status, HIV status or disability
- Participation in a lawful strike
- Refusal to join or participate in a union
- Valid legal claim against an employer
- When decision to dismiss an employee is not communicated to employee clearly
- Lack of a hearing with the employee who can have his union representative or fellow employee present before a decision is made
Please note that only employees who have been employed for over thirteen months continuously can bring a claim of unfair termination.
It’s also important to ensure that a contract is provided to an employee with all terms of engagement and repercussion matrix. This will be legally binding to both the employer and employee.
Here, then, are some of the actions that constitute lawful grounds for employee termination:
Violence, Sexual Harassment & Disregarding Safety
This should be included in employee contract upon employment with clear spelling of what qualifies to be regarded as violence, sexual harassment and disregarding safety.
Clearly defining this to the employee and having a copy of the contract with you. Most employers have a zero tolerance policy against this and violation leads to summary dismissal. Of course final dues should be discussed with the employee and any other constructional terms that were laid down.
Drug & Alcohol Use at the Workplace
Each employee must be in sound mind so as to perform on their optimum level, therefore, coming to work intoxicated would not augur well with the work environment. Drug and alcohol use can also lead to accidents that puts employers in a position of liability
Unethical behavior/ Lying/Falsifying Documents
Most employees are usually eager to get their feet wet and some are willing to do anything to get the role. In this case, falsification of documents and lying about references can occur. It’s important to call references before hiring them to see if their expertise and work ethic check out. Unethical behavior can also be during employment. These can include: Falsification of work documents,
Vandalism & Damaging company Property
Companies/ individuals greatly invest in their businesses therefore when individuals vandalize or knowingly damage property it’s definitely a great loss. When assigning/ providing machines/ items to employees it’s mandatory to ensure that everything is in clear record. This hinders employees from repudiating ownership of items provided
We all know that theft is a character issue. As the saying goes “A thief is a thief whether he steals a diamond or a cucumber”. Theft in the workplace should not be tolerated. Even when an employee is caught stealing due process and fairness should be observed while handling the issue.
Lack of Performance
Employees are required to meet set targets as per contract. Please note, however, that there can be negotiations in cases where targets are set too high. In cases where the employee doesn’t make any progress in their performance improvement, despite various trainings and capacity building then termination follows based on disciplinary procedures laid down
Constant Absenteeism without Cause
In the case where an employee is constantly absent and doesn’t bother to explain, the employer can terminate their employment. Always ensure that there is a clear policy on this. If there is a clocking system and working hours, then the same provision should be on the employee’s contract to avoid confusion
Violation of Company Policies
Always ensure that your policies are laid down clearly e.g. on the contract or on posters and banners in the office. Beware of employees who feel they’re indispensable as they will go as far as violating codes of conduct with the belief that they cannot get fired
The severity of the incident may also determine whether you may need to terminate the employee. In some cases, a written warning letter is required. Always practice fairness in all cases as employees can use this to file lawsuits. If there is leniency provided to one employee the same should be accorded to another.