Terminating a worker for poor performance

Spur-of-the-moment decisions not recommended
By Robert Olson
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 11/22/2011

There are varied reasons for terminating employment. Sometimes, it can be a clear-cut decision involving relatively simple execution, assuming there is proof. For example, if an employee stole money or sexually harassed a co-worker, the employer has an easy decision to make and an easy case to prove.

But sometimes a decision around termination needs to be made not because there was one serious event — or multiple culpable ones — but because an employee has performed poorly. Although this might appear to be a straightforward decision, employers need to keep several points in mind before an employee is let go because it will likely make a difference as to whether a just cause termination stands up in court.

Employers must first establish cause for dismissal based on poor performance. To properly establish cause, the employer must be able to show a judge or arbitrator it communicated clearly the level of performance expected, given the specific duties assigned.