When deciding to hire employees for your small business, it's important to define workplace policies that protect your business and its workers. One of the more unpleasant, but necessary, sections of a company handbook is a policy about immediately terminable offenses, with a list detailing specifically what they include. If an employee commits one of these offenses, you have the right and responsibility to terminate their employment to keep other employees, customers and company property safe.

Developing a List of Immediately Terminable Offenses

Thinking about workplace violence, theft, bullying and other unwanted acts in a place of business can seem troubling — but these acts can and do happen. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "Nearly 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year." Placing a list of offenses that would be grounds for immediate termination in the employee handbook can help prevent unacceptable behavior, because employees will understand that they could lose their jobs.

When creating a list of offenses that would be grounds for immediate termination, consider your values, your type of business and which behaviors would have the most negative impact on it. Also remember that it's up to you as an employer to provide a safe work environment for all employees. Some examples of offenses that are grounds for immediate termination may include the following:

  • Bullying, threats of violence or physical assault against another employee.
  • Intentional abuse of or damage to company property.
  • Theft or misuse of company funds, property or services.
  • Complete disregard for customer service or losing a customer as a result of gross employee misconduct.
  • Violating the company's formal substance abuse policy.
  • Insubordination toward a supervisor or company executive.

Develop this list as part of an overall performance management policy, with degrees of intervention and discipline clearly written out. Publish it in the employee handbook and make sure all employees receive a copy.

Handling Terminable Offenses

If an employee commits an immediately terminable offense, management must take swift and concerted action. Take the employee aside privately to explain what he did wrong and inform him that the offense was grounds for termination. Have the employee sign a document to verify his understanding of the company's policy in this regard, and then discreetly escort the employee from the business premises without disrupting the rest of the workforce.

By creating and publishing a list of terminable offenses, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of unacceptable workplace behavior that could damage the organization while adding a layer of protection for both your employees and your business assets.

Tags: Company Handbook Employee Policies Terminable Offenses Employee Termination