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Question: A month ago, we placed one of our employees on a performance action plan regarding the quality of his work and his low productivity levels after five previous verbal warnings in the last year. His performance has not improved since that plan was put into place. Is there anything more I need to do prior to letting this employee go for failure to meet the demands of the job? Answer: It sounds as though you have done a good job of discussing this employee’s job performance with him. If you have documented the verbal warnings in his employee file (which we always recommend), you have at least six documented discussions with him on this matter. While there is no magic number of warnings to make a termination risk free, if your records of these events are complete, a reasonable person would likely understand the business reason behind terminating this employee by looking at his file. Ideally, your discussions with the employee and the resulting documentation will also have indicated the potential consequences, including termination, of failure to improve or failure to follow the terms outlined in the performance action plan. Should the company ever be challenged on the termination decision, an employer’s best defense is typically its written documentation regarding the employee’s inadequate performance. Documenting unsatisfactory performance in a way that a reasonable person could view the documentation and understand that the termination was motivated by a legitimate business reason (lack of productivity) rather than an illegal reason (such as his race, age, religion, etc.) is an important step. Once the company is comfortable with the supporting documentation in the employee’s file regarding the reason for separation, we recommend scheduling and conducting a termination meeting with the employee. In the meeting, we recommend that the employee’s manager explain to the employee that he is being terminated and the reason for his termination. In addition, we recommend that another member of the management team or a Human Resource representative attend the meeting to document the discussion. It is important to understand the rules regarding the timing of the final paycheck before you hold the termination meeting as the laws vary by state. For example, Colorado employers who terminate an employee must pay wages immediately at the time of termination, while Texas employers must pay the wages of a discharged employee within six days of termination and Kansas employers must just pay wages by the next scheduled payday. Enroll in the Church HR Support Center for more great HR resources. Article Courtesy of HR Support Center. Legal Disclaimer: The HR Support Center is not engaged in the practice of law. This response should not be relied upon or construed as legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions concerning your situation or the information you have obtained, you should consult with a licensed attorney. The Company can in no way be held liable for any actions taken as a result of this correspondence.

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Clergy Financial Resources serves as a resource for clients to help analyze the complexity of clergy tax law, church payroll & HR issues. Our professionals are committed to helping clients stay informed about tax news, developments and trends in various specialty areas.

This article is intended to provide readers with guidance in tax matters. The article does not constitute, and should not be treated as professional advice regarding the use of any particular tax technique. Every effort has been made to assure the accuracy of the information. Clergy Financial Resources and the author do not assume responsibility for any individual’s reliance upon the information provided in the article. Readers should independently verify all information before applying it to a particular fact situation, and should independently determine the impact of any particular tax planning technique. If you are seeking legal advice, you are encouraged to consult an attorney.

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