Do you need to preface a firing with a warning?

On Behalf of | Dec 6, 2019 | Employment Litigation |

One of your employees has not been getting the job done. Their performance simply hasn’t been what you were looking for. They haven’t done anything that warranted firing them instantly, but you do know that it’s time to let them go and find a replacement.

Your big question here is whether or not you need to warn that employee first. Do they deserve a warning so they can try to keep their job? Do they need one? What are your legal obligations? Can you just call them into your office and fire them at the end of the week?

Generally speaking, it depends on your own company policies. When employees were hired, did they sign a contract stating that they get a warning? Even without a contract, does the employee handbook note that it is your policy to give out a specific amount of warnings first?

You do have a legal obligation to follow the company policies and only fire someone in accordance with what you told them they could expect when they accepted the position. If you do not, it could result in litigation.

That said, the law itself does not say that you have to warn employees. You can fire them without telling them it’s coming. They may not be thrilled with your decision, and it may have a negative impact on the rest of your staff, but you’re not breaking the law. That issue only arises when the employees have company-specific policies and regulations that they rely on.

If you do find yourself in a legal battle with a terminated employee, be sure you know what steps you can take.