If an employee isn't pulling their weight, just dismissing them won't necessarily be the best course of action. Whether they're sexually harrassing co-workers or simply not meeting targets, ensure you follow the correct procedure or risk being taken to court.
We had an employee who was in a sales-related job but failed to produce anything at all. He'd call in sick about once a week - it had been going on for months, and it had to stop.
The real problems started when he realised we were planning to dismiss him. We started off with a disciplinary hearing, making sure we followed all the correct protocol. That wasn't necessarily enough, though: the first thing he did when we invited him to a hearing was to call in sick with stress.
The only solution was to carry on following procedure. After he called in sick, we had to handle him with kid gloves because we knew he was likely to be slippery: we wrote to him expressing regret he was ill, and saying we wanted to pay for him to go and see one of our doctors.
At the same time, we continued to pursue the disciplinary procedure. We invited him in to discuss what was happening and continued to follow everything to the letter. We knew if we made a single slip-up, there was a very good chance he could take us to tribunal.
Eventually, he failed to keep an appointment with our doctor, so we wrote a letter to him asking him to come in and see us. He didn't acknowledge that letter, and he didn't send in his last sick note, which gave us good grounds to dismiss him.
We did eventually get rid of him, but he still threatened us with legal action.
More than anything, I learned to make sure people always have structured job criteria and clear job descriptions. I set targets, so if employees fail to meet them, we have valid grounds for dismissal.
I'm relieved we had disciplinary and grievance procedures already in place. He still managed to get about four months' pay for doing nothing - but had we not had the correct prodcedures in place, there's a chance he could have got a lot more.
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