There is a right way to deal with redundancy

Sacking someone is the worst job for a manager. It’s not just about the difficult message that needs to be conveyed. There are legal issues and there’s also the risk of damaging staff morale and the company’s reputation.

To avoid an unfair dismissal claim under the Fair Work Act, printers need to give a valid reason for the termination and provide warning. They have to give the employee an opportunity to respond.

It is important to keep detailed notes. These could later be used as evidence of the issues that were raised with the employee prior to termination.

When calling the employee to a final meeting, it is also important to let them know that the meeting will be discussing their employment and they need to be asked whether they want to bring a support person along. During the meeting, ongoing concerns about the employee’s performance or conduct need to be raised. Employees should get the opportunity to respond. The conversation has to be handled in a business-like manner, free of emotion and recriminations. The manager should then adjourn the meeting to consider the responses provided by the employee and work through the issues.

These should not be off-the-cuff decisions. Where it’s decided to terminate employment, the employee should be advised whether they are expected to serve their notice or be paid out. Under the Fair Work Act, they need to be given written notice of their termination setting out the reasons. It goes without saying that all outstanding wages and leave entitlements need to be paid out as soon as practicable. The employee also needs to be provided with a Centrelink Separation Certificate and statement of service.

Experts say the meeting needs to be held in a neutral location. It should not be held in the manager’s office or in theirs.

A conference or meeting room would be best. Experts say the best time to hold the meeting is early to late afternoon but not at the end of the day. It is best to do it mid-week, which gives the employee the opportunity to seek out advice. Leaving it to Friday means they will spend the weekend going over it in their heads.

The meeting should last no more than 15 minutes. The purpose of the meeting is to inform the employee of the decision, not debate it.

The manager needs to contain regret, anger, frustration, sadness or other emotions and be prepared for the employee being argumentative. Managers should let employees respond and speak their mind. It is important to acknowledge any valid points and tell the employee that their input and candidness is appreciated.

And finally, it is important to end on a positive note. The manager should thank the employee for their contributions and wish them luck in the future. When the meeting is over, they should stand up and shake their hand.

Leon Gettler is a senior business journalist who writes for a range of leading newspapers and journals

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