Can You Terminate an Employee For Bad Performance?

Employment Law is very complicated. Even if it is your very first day at work, you probably have heard many people telling you that there is no way you can fire someone for poor performance. Even if they are your boss, you still have to follow the employment laws. So how can this be possible? How can an employee be fired merely for not performing as you want him or her to? The answer lies in the employment law of a country or state.

While each company and business follow their own particular policies regarding termination, the general policies apply to all employment termination procedures. First, when there is a negative performance assessment for an employee, the employer has to investigate the situation before deciding to terminate the employee. If the investigation does not lead to a conclusion of wrongdoing by the employee, then there should be no immediate termination. Instead, the employee should be given a reasonable warning or chance to improve his performance before being terminated.

Second, even if there is still no concrete reason for terminating an employee, there are cases wherein it may be considered as constructive dismissal. In general, when an employee is considered to be a problem, then the employer has to take some remedial measures or face severe repercussions. For instance, if the employees continues to perform unsatisfactorily after he has been warned or given a chance to improve, then he could be given the chance to be trained properly so as to avoid such occurrences in the future.

Third, in any case that an employee continues to exhibit bad performance after he has been warned or given the chance to improve, then he can be terminated. Usually, the employer has to justify the termination in every case, especially if the employee has been warned several times about poor performance. However, when the employee has continued with his bad performance despite warnings and alternatives provided, then it becomes harder to justify his termination.

An employer cannot simply fire employees without giving them a legal reason. Even then, employers have to give their employees a warning just one time. This is done through a formal written notice. In some states, this is the legal minimum requirement. This means that even if the employee continues to exhibit unacceptable behavior after receiving the warning, he could still be forced to leave the job.

The fourth question that you need to ask yourself, “Can you terminate an employee solely for bad performance?” is based on the law. The law says that an employer has to take immediate measures for failing to prevent discrimination or harassment by its employees. For instance, if an employee repeatedly uses racist or sexist language in the workplace, or if the employee is rude to other employees, then he can be asked to undergo sensitivity training.

What if the employee continues to exhibit bad performance? If the employer fails to take corrective action, then this constitutes harassment and may constitute grounds for dismissal. Under these circumstances, the employer may also need to give a justification for the employee’s continued bad performance. Usually this justification is that the employee has not been performing up to standard. An employee who has been performing below standards for six months is now considered to be of inadequate performance and may need to be given a reason why.

The fifth and final question that you need to ask yourself, “Can you terminate an employee solely for bad performance?” is going to be dependent on the actual facts of your particular case. In cases where there has been repeated use of abusive or threatening language or conduct, or where complaints have been filed regarding discriminatory issues, then you may indeed be able to terminate the employee. However, you may be required to give an employee a chance to improve their record before you decide to fire them.