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What is Proper Dismissal Procedure?

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  • Written By: I. Ong
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 27 August 2016
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The proper procedure for terminating an individual from employment depends on the reason for doing so. The dismissal procedure for redundancy or layoffs involves ensuring that the reason for dismissal is valid, providing a written reason for dismissal, giving appropriate notice, and notifying the relevant government agencies in some cases. Dismissal for misconduct or poor performance includes those steps, as well as the additional steps of investigation, a disciplinary hearing, and allowing for proper documentation. Utmost care must be taken to follow procedure to the letter, both to avoid potential injustice against the employee and to reduce the possibility of litigation later on.

The reason for dismissal must be reviewed objectively by several parties before proceeding. This is to ensure that any personal differences between the supervisor and his subordinate are not the reason for dismissal. Moreover, in cases of misconduct and poor performance, the final decision must not be made until after the employee has had the chance to respond to the allegations in the disciplinary hearing.

Once the reason for dismissal has been determined to be valid, it is advisable to inform the employee of the dismissal in a private meeting, and to provide him with a letter explaining the reason for dismissal. Printed letters add authenticity to the procedure and provide concrete documentation. At least one extra copy of the letter should be filed away by the company for this purpose.

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To maintain correct dismissal procedure, the employee must be given advance notice of his termination before the actual date. The period of time is generally dependent on the length of time the employee has worked for the company, with the usual policy being at least one week's notice per year served. For contractual employees or in cases where such a policy is not applicable, reasonable notice must still be provided to the employee, with his level of responsibility taken into consideration.

Summary dismissals are dismissals wherein no advance notice is given, and no pay provided beyond the day of dismissal. Such dismissals have been known to occur in cases of gross misconduct. It is advisable to still provide notice whenever possible, however, as summary dismissals can prove to be costly in the long run if the aggrieved employee should choose to take it to court. Employment tribunals have been known to rule that summary dismissals are procedurally unfair.

It is acceptable to have the employee continue his work for the remainder of his period of employment. Depending on the reason for dismissal, it is also possible to have the employee no longer report for work, although he will still receive pay until the official date of his termination. If provided for in the contract, an employee may also be asked to stay home until the date of termination, with the stipulation that he must come to work if so required during the notice period.

When more than 20 employees are being simultaneously dismissed due to layoffs, proper dismissal procedure demands that the company inform the appropriate government bureau that regulates employment, as well as any appropriate workforce representatives. The employees in question must be warned ahead of time, and may even be consulted regarding the decision. Employees may also be able to appeal the decision in some circumstances.

The dismissal procedure for cases of misconduct and poor performance require additional steps prior to informing the employee of his dismissal. An investigation must first be conducted, whereby the employee's activities are placed under observation and documented. Given due cause, a disciplinary hearing will usually be scheduled and the employee notified of the hearing in advance.

The employee must then be provided with copies of applicable evidence in advance, and informed that he has the right to bring representation to the hearing. Once the hearing starts, evidence will be presented to support the allegations of misconduct or poor performance on the part of the employee. The employee will then have the chance to respond to the allegations, and provide any evidence he might have to support his own response.

The committee at the disciplinary hearing must then review the employee's response and include it in their final decision. If the decision is to dismiss the employee, the employee has the right to appeal the decision. If it should still end in dismissal, the dismissal procedure outlined above should also be applied for misconduct and poor performance cases. The company must retain copies of all supporting documents and evidence relevant to the procedure.

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