Is a termination always necessary?

Issuing a termination is never easy. After conducting performance reviews, it’s probably the most dreaded activity for any line manager. Is there anything that can be done to avoid them?

What are the options to avoid a termination?

Most terminations aren’t taken within minutes. The decision to terminate an employment agreement is rather a build up of different events over a period of time and potentially could be prevented.

The Federal Law No. (8) of 1980 is the UAE’s labour law. It specifies in Art. 122 that an employee can only be terminated for work-related reasons. Should a termination be based on other reasons, they’d be considered arbitrary. Work-related reasons still require a certain process and, unlike other jurisdictions, can’t be at will.

Do we need a disciplinary policy?

A well-written disciplinary policy provides clarity. It lays down the company’s principles and approaches to dealing with any disciplinary issues. It also lets individuals know what standards of behaviour are expected from everyone and what constitutes acts of gross misconduct. Individuals learn what any disciplinary involves, including sanctions and appeals.

Outlining the different steps which need to be taken, the disciplinary procedure maintains a fair approach to evaluate any allegations. Line managers can therefore reduce the likelihood of running into legal actions.

A comprehensive disciplinary policy must be shared with staff. After all, they need to understand what’s expected of them and what they can expect in case of not adhering to it. Line managers and HR will then also need to follow it for all disciplinary cases.

What should the formal disciplinary process be?

If possible, the line manager should consider taking informal actions. This may not apply for cases of gross misconduct. Should an informal procedure not be applicable, the formal process will be started.

  1. Notify the employee in writing of the allegations against them
  2. Provide an opportunity for the employee to comment on these allegations
  3. Investigate the allegations and any defence statements from the employee
  4. Notify the employee in writing about the outcome of the allegation, including any disciplinary actions, the reasons for these actions and any disciplinary actions in case of a repeated offence (Art. 110)
  5. Place a copy of the notification in the employee’s personnel file.

To avoid unnecessary dragging out of a disciplinary process, the company needs to ensure timelines can be met efficiently and fairly. Art. 111 of the UAE labour law states all disciplinary offence must be addressed within 30 days of discovering them. It further defines imposing any disciplinary actions within 60 days from the completion of the investigation.

What disciplinary actions should a company implement?

As companies create their own internal disciplinary procedure, they can follow the seven actions laid out in the UAE labour law:

  1. Warning
  2. Fine
  3. Suspension from work with reduced pay for a period not exceeding ten days
  4. Forfeiture of deferment of periodic increment in establishments where such increments system is applied
  5. Forfeiture or deferment of promotion in establishments where promotion system is applied
  6. Dismissal from service but reserving right to end of service benefits
  7. Dismissal from service together with forfeiture of all or part of the benefits, provided that penalties shall not be imposed for reasons other than those specifically prescribed in Article (120) of this law.

What are the alternatives to a termination?

While the labour law provides different steps prior to issuing a termination, this question is not asked often enough: Do we really need to terminate the employee?

Organisations are advised to review each situation on an individual basis and consider alternatives. Replacing an employee is a costly and time-consuming activity. Worldwide, companies are voicing their concerns of finding and retaining qualified and engaged staff.

Provide training and coaching

Employees are being asked to do more with less. Do they have all the resources to complete their tasks and to achieve the desired outcomes? An employee who needs to compile data but without the access to all data sets cannot complete this activity. Line managers should provide their team members with the relevant access rights if that has caused incomplete work.

Simultaneously, line managers should review what skills the employee needs. HR can perform a training needs analysis and additional training can be given to the employee internally or externally.

Line managers can also guide the employee when outlining how a task should be carried out or how a situation can be handled differently next time. Constructive feedback can help individuals to develop, regardless of them being at risk of being fired.

Assign an alternative role

When the employee’s skills and knowledge are not aligned to the current role, it may appear as if the employee is not suitable. The constant feedback of them not performing according to the expectations for the role may become demotivators, possibly leading the employee to spiral downwards.

A close match between the requirements of the role and the employee’s skills, knowledge and abilities can increase the performance. In particular for Millennials, the desire to align their personal vision with their work role is substantial. If achieved, engagement increases significantly.

Move to an alternative team

Working in a team is not always easy. In a multi-cultural and multi-generational team, conflict can arise and needs to be managed. If personality clashes are preventing individuals from doing their best, a different team should be considered.

This may not always be an option in smaller organisations. Line managers should then also reflect on other alternatives instead of simply firing the employee.

Terminations may not always be the final answer. When deciding to let go off an employee, the necessary steps need to be follow to end the relationship in a legally compliant, fair and respectful manner. Contact us and find out how to create effective and smooth exit procedures.

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