How to effectively effect an Employment Separation

Michael_CosgroveTNDo you dread whenever you have to effect an Employment Separation and cut one of your team members loose? If so, you need to read this advice from our human resources expert Michael Cosgrove.

Do you dread whenever you have to effect an Employment Separation and cut one of your team members loose? If so, you need to read this advice from our human resources expert Michael Cosgrove.

At some stage in your career you will be called upon to effect an Employment Separation. This is unavoidable, and anyone who says they never will is kidding themselves. It is a somewhat traumatic event for an employee. In most cases they will not truly understand why they are being terminated. Others may see it as a relief. Some will see it as an opportunity to extort money from the employer. Others will view it as an opportunity to move on to bigger and better things.

All this aside, it will be your job as the employer representative to ensure that the separation is compliant, manageable, and has little or no impact on the employer down the track. On many occasions I have witnessed terminations that have followed no process, but more times than not I have seen where a termination should have been effected months prior, but the employer has been caught out over-thinking it. Don't be scared to effect an Employment Separation. It's really not hard.

Whilst the legislation imposes requirements on all employers in terms of legislative compliance, your own internal processes to complement them should not take weeks, reams of paper, or the expensive engagement of lawyers. Employment Separations can be broken down into three easy to identify categories:

- Conduct (Behaviour);
- Performance; and
- Redundancy.

Once you have clearly identified the category that is pertinent to the separation, then you go about formalising the employment separation. Ask yourself the questions that you would be asking should it be you yourself being let go. The could include:

- Was I given adequate notice of my bad performance and a sufficient amount of time to rectify it?

- Was I advised of my misconduct or inappropriate behaviour and given an opportunity to change?

- Was I provided with a support person?

- Was I provided will all the allegations and an opportunity to defend myself?

- Was my redundancy genuine or was I being targeted?

- Was I properly consulted under the requirements of the relevant Industrial Instrument and FWA?

There are a range of questions for each category that must be answered, but each employment separation will be different. People’s reactions and circumstances will be different, so always remember that no two employment separation events will be the same. While the threat of adverse action and unfair dismissal applications is real, you should never be scared of an employment separation.

My tip? Write your defence before you effect the separation, that way you know whether or not you've asked the right questions and got the right answers.

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