Working Wise | DrumhellerMail - Page #10
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Last updateFri, 19 Oct 2018 4pm

I have a problem employee. She is rude to my customers, she doesn’t complete all of the tasks that must be done every day, she plays the VLT machines instead of serving customers and she calls in sick a lot, but only on the weekends. Is this enough to fir

Dear Working Wise:
I have a problem employee. She is rude to my customers, she doesn’t complete all of the tasks that must be done every day, she plays the VLT machines instead of serving customers and she calls in sick a lot, but only on the weekends. Is this enough to fire her and not pay severance? Signed, Bothered Bar-owner

Dear Bothered:

Employees have the right to quit and employers have the right to terminate employees under Alberta’s Employment Standards Code. But, these rights come with responsibilities. The most important one is providing adequate notice.

The length of notice depends on how long the employee has worked for you. In Alberta, the minimum notice required is: one-week’s notice for between three months and two years of service. Employees with two to four years of service are entitled to a minimum of two-weeks notice.

The notice period continues to increase with length of service. For a complete list of notice periods, visit http://humanservices.alberta.ca/es and click on the Termination of Employment and Temporary Layoff fact sheet.

You can choose to give termination pay in lieu of the notice period. A combination of written notice and pay is also acceptable. Employers must pay all wages, overtime, general holiday pay and vacation pay owed to the employee within three days following termination of employment.

There are a number of circumstances when an employer does not have to give notice or termination pay. These circumstances, as you mentioned in your question, are for “just cause”.

Examples just cause include:
- willful misconduct, like theft or deliberately causing damage to the business;
- disobedience, like failure to comply with company policy; and
- deliberate neglect of duty, like not showing up or leaving without permission.

Employers need adequate documentation to back up their decision to terminate an employee for just cause.

Documentation provides a record of unacceptable employee behaviour, proof the employee was made aware of their performance problems, and evidence of the employer’s efforts to correct the behaviour.

Documentation can include things like: details of meetings with the employee, copies of emails, letters of reprimand, or time sheets showing missed hours.

When an employee is terminated for just cause, the employer still must pay all wages, overtime, general holiday pay and vacation pay owed to the employee within 10 days of termination.

Unfortunately, I can not give you a definitive answer to your question. Employers who terminate employees for cause risk paying expensive wrongful dismissal cases if they lack adequate proof.

A lot depends on how serious the misconduct has been, how many times it has happened and how well you have documented it.

To explore how strong your case is for just cause, you should seek legal advice. The Law Society of Alberta offers a free lawyer referral service by calling 1-800-661-1095.

For more information on employment standards related to terminations, visit http://humanservices.alberta.ca/es or call the toll-free Alberta Employment Standards phone line at 1-877-427-3731.

Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca. Charles Strachey is a manager with Alberta Human Services. This column is provided for general information.

 


One of my long-time employees retired recently and left some big shoes to fill. It caused us a few headaches, because no one knew everything that he did. Do you have any tips on succession planning so I can avoid the headaches next time?

Dear Working Wise:
One of my long-time employees retired recently and left some big shoes to fill. It caused us a few headaches, because no one knew everything that he did. Do you have any tips on succession planning so I can avoid the headaches next time? Signed, Surprised Supervisor

Dear Surprised:

Succession planning helps employers retain critical skills and knowledge so that business can continue uninterrupted even as key employees leave. It also helps you retain promising young employees by letting them know that they have a bright future at your company.

Succession planning is especially important to small- and medium-sized businesses, because the critical knowledge and skills tend to be concentrated in just a few employees.

The number of mature workers—Albertans aged 55 and up—more than doubled over the last decade, from 177,000 to 370,000. Around 190,000 Albertans—approximately 10 per cent of our workforce—are expected to retire over the next decade.

Our aging workforce is making succession planning a critical human resources and business continuity function.

Alberta Human Services has developed a free guide for employers called Succession Planning: Retaining skills and knowledge in your workforce.

This guide goes into far more detail than I can, but here are some of the high points.

Succession planning identifies and develops employees to fill positions that are key to the organization’s success. It also helps retain valuable workers and lowers the costs of recruiting new talent.

Five steps of succession planning:
1. Profile your workforce (ages, roles, skills);
2. Identify key positions and skills;
3. Build job profiles for the key positions, including required knowledge, skills, and qualities;
4. Identify and assess potential successors;
5. Create plans that develop the skills of potential successors and transfer knowledge.

Once you have identified your organization’s key skills and knowledge, you need to find ways to share them with other staff. Retaining knowledge and passing it along to other is an essential part of succession planning.

Sharing skills and knowledge also helps you keep the doors open when key staff are sick or on vacation. And, it doesn’t have to cost a lot or take a lot of time either.

Knowledge-retention strategies include:
• Make ongoing learning a part of your workplace culture;
• Lead by example – share your knowledge and acknowledge your staff for sharing their knowledge;
• Set up one-on-one staff discussions between senior and junior staff;
• Encourage senior employees to mentor younger staff;
• Cross-train staff or rotate jobs;
• Hold post-project reviews: share learnings, what worked and what didn’t, etc.
• Create documentation: manuals, guides, procedures, project status reports, etc.

For more information on succession planning, read Succession Planning: Retaining skills and knowledge in your workforce. The guide is available on the ALIS website at http://alis.alberta.ca/pdf/cshop/successionplanning.pdf or by visiting your nearest Alberta Works Centre.

Good luck!

Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca. Charles Strachey is a manager with Alberta Human Services. This column is provided for general information.

 

 


 

I was laid off from a company a few months ago and received two week of severance pay after working for them for two years. Does the company have to call me first to see if I want my job back before hiring anyone else? If so, and they have hired someone e

Dear Working Wise:

I was laid off from a company a few months ago and received two week of severance pay after working for them for two years. Does the company have to call me first to see if I want my job back before hiring anyone else? If so, and they have hired someone else, what are my options about getting my old job back? Signed, Eager to Work

 

Dear Eager:

 

I wish I could help you get your old job back, but it sounds like your employer has acted appropriately.

 

There is such a thing as a “temporary layoff”, when an employer wants to maintain the employment relationship with you and call you back as soon as there is work available. 

 

But it sounds to me from your letter that your employer terminated your employment.  You received severance pay, because your employer severed (terminated) your employment relationship.

 

Employers are not required to rehire former employees first.

 

Your employer also paid you an appropriate amount of termination pay. Anyone employed for between two and four years is entitled to a minimum of two weeks notice or two weeks of severance pay in lieu.

 

Temporary Layoffs

If your employer wanted to maintain the employment relationship—and lay you off temporarily—they would have been required to notify you in writing. Temporary layoff notices must include the effective date of the layoff and sections 62-64 of Alberta’s Employment Standards code, which govern temporary layoffs.

 

Temporary layoffs can not last more than 59 days in duration. On the 60th consecutive day of temporary layoff, the employment relationship terminates and the employer must pay the employee termination pay on that day unless:

·         wages or benefits continue to be paid on behalf of the employee; or

·         there is a collective agreement that provides recall rights longer than the 59 days.

 

Should the layoff extend past the 59 days, the employment terminates, and termination pay appropriate to the length of service of the employee is required. The only exception to the 59-day period applies to school employees and school-bus drivers.

 

Employees can be terminated while on temporary layoff, but they are entitled to termination pay.

 

Employees on temporary layoff can be called back to work with seven days written notice. Employees who fail to return to work within seven days of receiving written notice can be terminated without termination notice or pay.

 

The good news is that Alberta’s unemployment rate is the lowest in the country at 4.5 per cent and the number of job postings are is on the rise. You are in a better position than many job seekers, because you have two years of experience working in a job you enjoy.

 

Drop by your nearest Alberta Works Centre for help putting your valuable experience to work. To find your nearest Alberta Works Centre, visit http://humanservices.alberta.ca/offices.

 

If you have any more questions about your situation, call Alberta Employment Standards toll-free at 1-877-427-3731. This line is staffed by experts who can go into more detail with your case if you wish.

 

You can also review the Employment Standards Code for yourself by visiting our web site http://humanservices.alberta.ca/es

 

Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca. Charles Strachey is a manager with Alberta Human Services.


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