If you give your employees warnings before firing them, you want to provide these warnings in a written format. You also want to ask the employees to sign the documents. This can be tremendously helpful to you, as an employer, if a dispute arises. It proves that everyone was on the same page and that proper protocols were followed.
If an employee disputes a firing
For instance, an employee may dispute a firing after the fact or claim it was based on discrimination. Say that you have far fewer female employees than male employees. If one of your female employees is consistently late for work and you decide to replace her, she could claim that she’s being discriminated against — especially if you hire another male employee for her old position.
From the outside, this can look suspicious. With the right documentation in place, though, you can quickly show that discrimination did not happen. You have the timecards from when the employee arrived, so you can show that she was late. If you also have a warning saying she’ll be fired if she’s late again, and she signed and dated it before arriving late, you can show that that is the real reason she was fired — and that she knew it the entire time.
Do employees have to agree when they sign?
In some cases, employees refuse to sign because they don’t agree with the warning. If this happens, it can be wise to use language making it clear that signing isn’t an admission of guilt. It just shows that the employee did read the warning on that date, whether they agreed with it or not. In most cases, you don’t need them to agree anyway. You just need the documentation for the future.
Know your options in complex situations
If a dispute or another complex situation arises, make sure you understand your legal options. Even without signed warnings and other types of documentation, there are many steps you can take to defend against allegations of discrimination or other illegal behavior. You can’t take any chances with the reputation and future of your company, so you must know how to act.