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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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    CGF, Certified Grumble Framer TomDrama's Avatar
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    Default Employee Tardiness

    This thread has helped me start to sort things out in myhead concerning my employee. This person is a GREAT framer and works well with customers. Problem is constant tardiness ( up to an hour). This week.. out of 5 workdays -- ontime one day... late 2 days.. and 2 days didn't show up, calling late with lame excuses. The absentee-ism is new. We have discussed this tardiness many times, and then old behavior creeps back in. Hate the thought of going through the process of firing, and hiring someone new.

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    True Grumbler jaskgallery's Avatar
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    Pennsylvania is also a "right to work state" You don't need any reason to fire someone, no paper trail needed. You may have to pay unemployment but unless there is some descrimination they can't sue you. I live in Pittsburgh and just checked about this with my lawyer and accountant. I had an employee I needed to fire and wanted to make sure I did everything right. They told me the best way to do it is to offer no excuses just say "I have to let you go" Or "YOU ARE FIRED!!!!" If you are really upset.

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    CGF, Certified Grumble Framer Lisa in New Jersey's Avatar
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    I bet this person doesn't waste time cashing their check! Too bad you can't delay their pay a day for every hour they're late....
    Tardiness like that is just an obvious sign of disrespect!

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    PFG Picture Framing God j Paul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaskgallery View Post
    I have to let you go" Or "YOU ARE FIRED!!!!" If you are really upset.
    Of course you could do like so many of the big guys do and just cut their hours down to nothing and they will leave on their own and you aren't liable for unemployment.

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    Default Employee Paperwork

    Our prospective employees sign the last page of the emplolyemnt application, which makes reference to at will employment. When they are hired they also turn in a signature page at the back of a pesonnel policies manual (written by a labor law attorney) and a safety manual (satisfies one OSHA requiremt) They also fill out an emergency contact form in case one of them becomes seriously hurt. Finally, they have a training manual which we work through with them over time so that nothing falls through the cracks.

    Like many other states, CA is an At Will employment state, but it is helpful for the employee to understand this from the beginning. It is also helpful for employees to have written guidelines (personnel policies) covering everything from employee appearance to punctuality to employee benefits.They know what we expect of them and what they can expect from us in return.

    Regarding disciplinary forms, you can use them, and sometimes we do, but ultimately they don't hold up legally. At Will employment does. And Unemployment insurance? Everybody qualifies here in CA, even if they quit, are fired for gross insubordination or have their hands in the till. We have learned this over many years. Makes no difference!

    When my teen and young adult children have had summer jobs I am always astounded that there have often been no manuals, no safety procedures, no training guide, nothing. (I have been impressed by one--California Pizza Kitchen: Nice presentation and it covered everything.)

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    Default Just went through this myself in PA

    jaskgallery is right. I to live in PA and just went through this shizzz back in November. Just say "things aren't working out". Yeah, your unemployment rate that you pay to the state on a yearly basis may go up, but in reality that is the cost of doing business. You're gonna go through employees. My girl worked 20 hours a week and is now collecting part-time unemployment and going to community college. Yeah, tell me that ain't BS. She only worked for me for 85 days. But as I always say, you have to learn from your mistakes. First and foremost, probationary periods don't mean shizzz to the state. When I bring employees on in the future, it is going to be for 90-temporary employment with a signed 90-temporary employment agreement. You'll see large retail stores do this all the time during the holiday season. After the temporary period is over, if they are not working out, then I'll say see ya later, and they can't collect unemployment because it is a temp-job.

    If I decide to keep them after the 90-temp period is over, then I will bring them on as a regular employee with a new contract. At this time, performance reviews will start to take place, and employee incident reports will be written up, signed by the employee, and filed for any future actions. When it comes to letting an employee go with respect to performance issues, the burden of the proof is on the employer. In order to prevent this employee from collecting unemployment, you must be able to show the UC referee that the incident occur numerous times and the employee didn't make any effort to change their behavior. Yeah BS, tell me about it. Good Luck !

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    SGF Supreme Grumble Framer BILL WARD's Avatar
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    has anyone explored the avenue where YOU do NOT hire the employee, but hire the firm that hires said employee?????
    That way you have NO employees, NO employee unemp insurance(unless it's for you), NO W-2's, NO payroll, NO health insurance etc etc etc, and in the situation where you dont want the employee any longer you call 'their' employer up & tell them to get rid of this worker and find a more suitable replacement(or if YOU can find one, have them hire the new one under the same conditions)........
    You're not trying to learn something new EVERY day, you may as well be dead!

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    Banned Paul N's Avatar
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    Bill:

    Are there any such companies, that have framers, to be hired to other companies???

    If there are, they must be really rare.

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    Call any of them Paul. They'll send you an employee. Training them is up to you.

    Carry on.

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    PFG Picture Framing God Kirstie's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=FramerPhil;280027]jaskgallery is right. I to live in PA and just went through this shizzz back in November. Just say "things aren't working out". Yeah, your unemployment rate that you pay to the state on a yearly basis may go up, but in reality that is the cost of doing business. You're gonna go through employees. My girl worked 20 hours a week and is now collecting part-time unemployment and going to community college. Yeah, tell me that ain't BS.


    I don't know about all of you but I would not get far in business if I called my framers, staff, trusted employees, "My girl" You get back respect and loyalty by showing respect and appreciation for your employees. At least that's the way I see it. If the employment does not work out you politely let the person go.

    Why fight unemployment? It really won't affect your rate that much unless you are constantly turning over staff, and then I would look to your hiring practices, your training, and yourself first.

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    PFG Picture Framing God Val's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BILL WARD View Post
    has anyone explored the avenue where YOU do NOT hire the employee, but hire the firm that hires said employee?????
    That way you have NO employees, NO employee unemp insurance(unless it's for you), NO W-2's, NO payroll, NO health insurance etc etc etc, and in the situation where you dont want the employee any longer you call 'their' employer up & tell them to get rid of this worker and find a more suitable replacement(or if YOU can find one, have them hire the new one under the same conditions)........
    There is at least one in this area that does this, and I will be contacting them this week. It's called "Manpower", it's a temp agency that you "rent" an employee from them, they do all the payroll reporting and can offer medical benefits where applicable, and you pay the agency. It isn't necessarily for temporary employment. It's beginning to catch on in our area for those with one or two employees, sounds good to me. I will report back when I know more.
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    PFG Picture Framing God Kirstie's Avatar
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    I understand the temporary employee concept, but you are paying part of thier hourly wage back to the agency. I only hire highly experineced custom framers, but if I hire a trainee for the DIY and sales floor area, I look for art experience, some framing experience, and often a college degree.That person has to really want to be employed in my shop and really want to be trained to frame. I don't know how I could expect much from temp agency employees unless they were really outstanding. Interesting concept though.

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    PFG Picture Framing God Val's Avatar
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    Kirstie, in my case, I've found an experienced framer who needs very little training, but I can't offer benefits at an affordable premium. The agency can, through their group insurance. The employee can sign up with the agency and I can go "hire" them through that agency. I'm not considering having the agency find me someone to train....I've already found one. The agency would basically be the report-processer and benefit-supplier.

    Like I said, I don't know all the particulars yet, but I know of a few small business in our area that are going through them, and very happy with the service. They haven't acted as employee-finders, but more like a payroll service.
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