Breaking up is hard to do
When I was a little girl, I learned my most valuable lessons from the radio. When Neil Sedaka sang the words about breaking up, I believed him. Although he was singing about personal relationships, the message holds true for your relationship with an employee. If it’s time to let the employee go, you need to make sure you don’t make it harder for your business by incurring liability.
Let’s start with the basic tenants of Nevada Law that deserve your attention:
- Nevada is an “at will” state. This means that in the absence of an employment agreement, you may terminate an employee at any time with or without notice and with or without cause.
- You cannot withhold wages. An employee who is terminated must be paid all earned wages. If you do not immediately pay all earned wages, your business may be subject to penalties as well as legal action.
Set your employees up to succeed and document everything
Your employee’s success is directly related to your business’ success. Accordingly, your hiring, employee development process and disciplinary procedures will have direct results in the success of your business and limitation of your liability. Consider implementation of the following:
- Set expectations. Create an accurate, written, job description. Communicate, early and often, your expectations of your employees.
- Evaluate your employees. Create a written performance evaluation that ties to the employee’s job description. Provide the written evaluation on a regular basis – at least annually, but preferably quarterly.
- Document unsatisfactory performance. At any time, independent of the above discussed evaluation, if there is unsatisfactory performance, you should document it. You should be specific about the event, including the date and time.
- Performance Improvement Plan. If you believe the employee can improve, work with him/her to create a written performance improvement plan. This should contain a description of the unsatisfactory performance; identification of expectations for improvement; defined and measurable objectives; the result if the employee fails to improve; and a timeline for evaluation of improvement.
As you can see, throughout the process, each event should be documented and you should maintain that documentation in a secure location. If, ultimately, you should have to terminate an employee, you will have armed yourself with documentation to either prevent or defend against possible claims that may arise.
Ultimately, breaking up can be hard to do, but if you must do it, proceed in a way that maintains the safety of your business.