Q: What are good reasons to fire an employee?

Good reasons for firing someone include if they aren’t performing their job, if they break company policies, or if they break the law. Below is more information on each specific reason:

Performance issues

If an employee is not performing well, it may be time to let them go. Before firing someone for performance issues, make sure you have documented proof that:

  • You communicated, and the employee acknowledged, the expected level of performance;
  • The employee was not meeting their performance goals (e.g. sales, deadlines, etc.); and
  • You held meetings where you warned the employee that their performance was not up to snuff, worked with them to improve, and warned them of the consequences if they did not improve.

Breaking company policies

Your company should have a comprehensive employee manual that details how you do business as well as the expected behavior of your employees. If an employee regularly breaks these policies, even after being warned, that’s a good reason to let them go. These policies commonly include, but are in no way limited to:

  • Frequently coming into work late or missing days altogether;
  • Not adhering to the company’s dress code;
  • Using company property for personal use;
  • Deliberately ignoring supervisor direction; and
  • Imbibing alcohol in the office.

Breaking the law

If your employee breaks the law, that’s a good reason to fire them. Examples include:

  • Stealing from the company;
  • Sexually harassing a coworker or client;
  • Destroying company property; and
  • Consuming illegal drugs in the office.

Firing vs. Laying off

Note that these are all reasons to fire an employee, not lay them off. For an explanation of the difference between the two, click here.

Know the Law

Now, some reasons for firing employees are just plain illegal. So if you want to fire an employee for a reason that’s not listed above, double and triple check you’re not terminating them for an illegal one. As a rule of thumb, it’s always best to consult your state laws on the matter and consult an HR expert in your area to ensure your reasons for terminating are indeed legal and justified.

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