Termination Without Cause: Striking a Delicate Balance and How to Handle Things

terminating an employee

Have you found yourself in a situation where you have an employee that you wish to terminate, but you do not have a definitive “reason” that provides instant justification for doing so? According to the BC Employment Standards Act, is within your right as an employer as long as certain guidelines are upheld. As a dedicated HR consultancy, Pivot HR is here to help businesses navigate difficult employment scenarios such as termination without cause. Below, we’ll cover some basic facts about handling termination without cause, including what qualifies and how to conduct a termination meeting. Read on to learn more!

What is Termination Without Cause?

When discussing termination, it’s important to distinguish between cases that involve just cause, versus those that do not have a direct reason for the termination. Where just cause indicates that an employee has been terminated for misconduct that breaches their employment contract, termination without cause can occur for a wide variety of reasons such as the employee’s services no longer being needed, unsatisfactory performance, etc. Unlike just cause, you are not required to provide supporting documentation, however, you must give the employee compensation as a form of severance, written notice, or a combination of:

  • One week’s pay or notice after three consecutive months of employment
  • Two weeks’ pay or notice after 12 consecutive months of employment
  • Three week’s pay or notice after 3 years of consecutive employment, plus a week’s pay or notice for every additional year up to a maximum of 8 weeks

Severance Vs. Notice

Deciding whether to give notice or provide severance can be a difficult call to make, and before committing to a singular option you should closely evaluate all details. If you opt to provide compensation, be aware that the severance package should be fair, if not substantial. Doing so will help to eliminate the chance of being sued for wrongful dismissal, which can be highly detrimental for you in the long run. It is thus advisable to offer a generous package that considers that employee’s age, position in the company, and their prospects for future employment. A common inclusion in such packages are job placement services, employment counselling, and even offering extended benefits for a set period of time to ensure the individual is not left uncared for.

If you choose to give notice in lieu of severance, be aware that you could face potential pitfalls such as subpar performance after receiving notice, decreased morale among team members if gossip spreads, and more.

Whatever you decide to do, it’s crucial to move forward carefully and to ensure you know all of the risks associated with terminating the employee in question. Partnering with a skilled HR team like Pivot will help you make sure that all of your bases are covered, as well as aid you in choosing which kind of termination action works best for your specific needs.

Quick Tips For Conducting a Termination Without Cause Meeting

While we cover the ins and outs of handling a termination without cause meeting in greater detail here, below are a few core details you’ll want to have in mind as you build your plan.

1. Messaging is Vital

Your wording is one of the most essential parts of a termination meeting, especially if you’re firing without cause. Be factual and compassionate, but avoid lingering on any details as to why they’re being let go and maintain a firm position that steers away from too much debate and resulting justification. Focus instead on the details of the severance package, and communicate your gratitude for their time spent at the company.

2. Conduct the Meeting in a Safe Space

Firing can be difficult for both the employer and the employee, and to protect everyone’s dignity and confidentiality, your meeting should be conducted in a location that’s away from prying eyes and that allows for optimal privacy as everything unfolds. Remember to close the blinds and keep the door fully closed to prevent sound from carrying, and, although it’s unpleasant to think about, have a plan in place should things turn hostile.

3. No Need For a Crowd

Simply put, there’s no need to bring anyone along that doesn’t need to be there. Involve only the necessary parties and ensure that other team members are advised purely of the need to know details.

4. Timing

While there’s never a perfect time to end someone’s employment, there are days that are generally preferable to others. Early in the week (Monday or Tuesday), for example, allows the former employee to contact support services as soon as possible without having to wait over the weekend.

5. Demonstrate Kindness and Consideration

Regardless of the employee’s standing with the company, it’s important to remember that, from the receiving end, a termination is a very raw human experience. Recognize that the individual in question will no doubt have mixed emotions and likely need some extra support to transition into their new reality. You can assist them by offering job placement services as mentioned above, or at the very least, ensuring they have cab fare or a way to get home safely as they may be too emotional to drive themselves. Doing so will help the employee leave on better terms and may even protect you in the long run should your intentions ever be called into question.

Here to Help

If you’re in need of assistance with hiring and onboarding, as well as termination standards, Pivot HR is here to help. We’re proud to offer comprehensive hiring services, as well as team development and much more. Contact us today to learn how we can help your team grow with ease!

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