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Thread: Help with Employee Write up letters/forms

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    MGF Master Grumble Framer Uncle Eli's Avatar
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    Unhappy Help with Employee Write up letters/forms

    Hey all, I am managing a shop here with one employee under me, and have attempted to correct a laundry list of problems this employee continues to have. Ranging from procedural stuff to shop cleanliness, to Customer Service. I have gotten through our Christmas rush and am at a point where if I needed to let him go, I could survive in the interm until I found a replacement. My problem is that I haven't "written him up" for any of these infractions. I have been keeping a list, but thought they would work themselves out. The employee has been with me since Aug. I was wondering if anyone out there had some sample "write-up" forms or letters that you've used in the past that you wouldn't mind sharing. I most likely will be letting this employee go if the problems are not rectified, I would just like to have a paper trail to cover me. Thanks in advance for your help.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Eli View Post
    ... My problem is that I haven't "written him up" for any of these infractions. I have been keeping a list, but thought they would work themselves out...
    Yep, that is a problem. Is it possible that the employee does not know his job is in jeopardy? That is the question, and when the unemployment compensation issue comes up (in Ohio, anyway) it is the employer's burden to prove that the fired employee was fully aware of his/her deficiencies, the expected improvements, and the agreed-reasonable timetable for improvement.

    I suggest you start now to document the employee's infractions and your conversations about them. You don't need any sort of form for that. On the contrary, I suggest you keep the disciplinary communication casual, but precise and complete. That is, his signature on your handwritten notice with a list of your grievances, expectations, and deadlines is just as legally valid as a form letter.

    The advantage of less-formal communication is that it may be less initmidating to the employee, giving him/her a sense that you are more concerned about saving the business relationship than paving the way for firing. If the employee feels you care, he/she may respond favorably. If he/she feels you just want to cover the bases legally, then a defeatist "why bother to improve" attitude may set in.

    In my limited experience, the eye-to-eye, "We've got a problem to work out..." approach, in private of course, yields much better results than a filled-in Disciplinary Action form.

    On the other hand, if you are already sure he's a hopeless case and you just want to get rid of this guy, don't waste your time trying to save him. Just fire him and be happy to pay for his unemployment compensation and the training for his replacement.

    From the cynical standpoint, it might cost you more time and money to try to work with him, than it would cost to clean your slate and move on. Heartless? Cruel? Perhaps.

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    CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level II Donna at MetroAF's Avatar
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    I googled (yes, I guess its a verb now) "employee discipline form" and got this:
    www.toolkit.cch.com/tools/downloads/discipln.rtf

    It was a pretty straight-forward form. Name, date, offense, etc.
    Make sure that you go over the form with the employee after you've written them up. That way, they see what they've done and that there are real consequences, not just their boss bickering at them ('cause that's all their hearing). You may even need to give them a carbon copy as a reminder to clean up their act (you can buy the paper at an office supply shop). Also, with the first "official" write up, give them a time-period. If you don't have an employee manual, this is a bit tricky, so you should have it printed somewhere on the sheet (on the bottom).

    Have them sign the form, too. This forces them to acknowledge that they need to change some of their work habits and creates a contract, if you will, between you both. You, the employer, will do everything in your power, within reason, to help this employee learn and implement the proper working procedures. And they, the employee, will do their very best to follow it. If their performance is causing problems, and they need to be written up again, this is where the time limit comes in.

    I don't know what is legally acceptible, I know at my last job, you were allowed 5 write-ups (seemed a bit much to me). 1- Preliminary write-up, for 1st time offenders. 2- Secondary Write-up; also kind of a scare tactic. 3-Change-your-act-or-you-will-loose-you-job write-up. 4- Second-to-Final notice; Really, we're not kidding. 5- Final write-up. Your performance is being reviewed by your superiors. You will be notified when the decision is made.

    Which, 98% of the time was "You're Fired".

    Be constructive. I've noticed you've been doing that this way, why? Maybe they feel they are saving time (and maybe $$) by circumventing certain steps. Not that it is an excuse, but employees have a way of thinking that they can "change the system". Or, they honestly didn't think their habits were a problem.
    Of course, they could be suffering from SLOW, and refuse to be anything but obstinent.

    My 2-cents, really. You don't have to listen to me. Don't do anything that makes you uncomfortable.
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    SPFG Supreme Picture Framer God Bill Henry-'s Avatar
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    It gets tricky if you want to avoid problems.

    In my former life, guidelines for employee evaluations were written by company lawyers so that discharged people could not come back and sue.

    They outlined four steps: 1) a verbal warning; 2) first written warning, 3) second written warning, and 4) finally, termination.

    Each of the steps (even the verbal warning) had to be documented in detail and the employee had to sign the notice even if he/she disagreed with it. The signature was required so that the employee could not come back a state that you had never talked to him.

    Each step had to include the date and time of the offense, nature of the offense (which had to be detailed in the employee handbook), and “performance objectives” so that the employee knew what steps he/she would have to take to improve (even professional counseling), a “realistic” time frame for the improvement to take place, and a method of evaluating the improvement.

    It was truly a PITA process, but, depending on state laws (many of the states lean heavily towards employees’ rights rather than employers’), all of these processes may have to be followed if you don’t want your Unemployment Compensation rates to go up.
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    SPFG Supreme Picture Framer God Dave's Avatar
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    [quote=Jim Miller;265682]

    "From the cynical standpoint, it might cost you more time and money to try to work with him, than it would cost to clean your slate and move on. Heartless? Cruel? Perhaps."

    If you have taken every step available to help an employee perform better for both themselves and the company and no improvement is forthcoming, you are not being cruel or heartless by terminating them.

    Quite the contrary...an employer is actually doing harm to both the employee and the company when a non-performing employee is kept in employment.

    Not only is performance sub-par and potentially infectious and bad for the morale of other employees, but the employee who is kept in an underperforming position is not realizing their own potential. Another position with another employer may provide an opportunity to excel. Therefore the most cruel and heartless action any employer can take is to keep such an employee on because of pity or feelings of guilt.

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    CGF, Certified Grumble Framer apetty's Avatar
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    "Therefore the most cruel and heartless action any employer can take is to keep such an employee on because of pity or feelings of guilt."

    Dave Makielski[/QUOTE]

    That made me LOL Dave! I'm going to use that one next time..."Sorry [insert crappy employee's name here] but I can no longer act with such cruelty and heartlessness [sniff, sniff]. I'm firing you today. No no, don't thank me...it was the least I could do. Now get out there and show everyone your true potential!!"

    Reminds me of that age-old parent lie..."this is going to hurt me a lot worse than it's going to hurt you..."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave View Post
    ...If you have taken every step available to help an employee perform better for both themselves and the company and no improvement is forthcoming, you are not being cruel or heartless by terminating them.

    [I]Quite the contrary...an employer is actually doing harm to both the employee and the company when a non-performing employee is kept in employment.
    Your comments are welll taken, Dave. I certainly would not suggest keeping a non-performing employee -- although some would do that, instead of tackling the dreaded task of discipline.

    The point I failed to make was that sometimes an employer may judge that an employee simply is not worth the time and trouble to try to save. In that case, rather than prolong the agony, with disciplinary action that is not expected to succeed, simply end it ASAP.

    So, the employer does not have to take " ...every step available to help an employee perform better..." If the procedure is likely to be a waste of time and trouble, then it is OK to just get rid of him/her.

    Most USA state laws emphasize that employment is "at will", according to our Constitution. That means no person may be forced to work (enslaved) and, conversely, no employer is forced to employ any particular person. The employment may be terminated by either party at any time.

    The one caveat of firing is that there must be no discrimination involved. If an employee is clearly underqualified, underperforming, or unmotivated, it's OK to terminate him/her. But if he/she could try to make a discrimination case, then I would urge playing out the disciplinary process.

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    PFG Picture Framing God Jerry Ervin's Avatar
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    North Carolina is a "Right to Work" state.

    It is also a right to fire state.

    You can let someone go with the reason "it just isn't working out".

    Another strange part of our state's law is, a "Non-Compete" Agreement is not worth the paper it is written on. Meaning, you can not force someone through a contractual agreement to give up their "Right to Work".

    Every state is different. Check your local laws.
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    SGF Supreme Grumble Framer BILL WARD's Avatar
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    As I disremember it(from some 15 yrs ago) in FL the employER must have provided employEES with a 'complete' handbook outlining all these little things like job duties, review periods, etc etc, must have provided periodic evaluations(which emp must sign off on), any 'writeups' must be in the emp's file(everyone must have signed off on w/reccomendations for corrections)---all to prove a HISTORY of problems(& attempt to get them "solved"). All this BEFORE they are fired, OR emp has alot of weight/power to charge job discrimination, etc etc etc.......even tho it sounds like alot of overkill, my, at the time, employER fired someone after a couple of 'verbal get-it-together's' and had suit brought against them by the employEE---outcome was that they had to re-instate him, ensure hand book was written/distributed, interviews/reprimands were really documented/filed in personnel files and THEN, maybe, you could dismiss someone w/out tooo much further ado(they could still bring suit etc etc etc). They, of course, eventually fired him, successfully, because after coming back, he caused nothing but problems(all of which were, at that time, completely documented/stored).

    ALSO you will have to pay unemployment for this problem child! I'm wondering if the solution to this wouldn't be to cut them to parttime hours(say 10/week), then to 5/week, etc, until they quit.....wouldn't that get around almost all of the problems????
    any opinions about the success/legalitys on this one????
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    Banned Paul N's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BILL WARD View Post
    ALSO you will have to pay unemployment for this problem child! I'm wondering if the solution to this wouldn't be to cut them to parttime hours(say 10/week), then to 5/week, etc, until they quit.....wouldn't that get around almost all of the problems????
    any opinions about the success/legalitys on this one????
    Or, one could "re-assign" them to "latrine duty" for 6 months and they'll quit on their own....

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