Blog 5 min read

The importance of termination procedure

Ensuring compliance at all stages of the recruitment process is crucial. Here's why.

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Amazon managers in the United States have been authorised to fire employees who do not return to the office a minimum of three days per week. The retail giant’s return-to-office directive has prompted more than 30,000 employees to sign an internal petition rejecting the policy, as well as walkouts which have been held across the company.

A s a result of remote working policies implemented during the pandemic, many Amazon employees made life changes such as moving great distances from their offices, based on the understanding that this new way of working would be permanent. Amazon states that the return-to- office mandate affects only a small number of workers, whose circumstances will have to change in order  to facilitate a return to office, and that workers who refuse to return have been asked to voluntarily resign. If an employee does not resign but refuses to agree to return to in-person working at least three days per week, disciplinary action will be embarked upon, which can result in termination.

This is not the only time the ethics of Amazon’s termination practices have been called into question. Amazon delivery drivers in California have been on strike since 24th June, 2023 – forming picket lines at over 20 Amazon warehouses, around the United States, in response to the dismissal of 84 drivers for unionising and negotiating a contract with Amazon’s delivery partner, Battle Tested Strategies. In response, Amazon terminated its contract with Battle Tested Strategies, effectively dismissing the unionised drivers. A number of unfair labour practice charges against Amazon have since been filed with the National Labor Relations Board.

Though it remains by far the world’s most popular online shopping platform, averaging 4.8 billion visits in April of 2023, Amazon has developed a reputation for its poor treatment of workers – with the average Amazon warehouse employee only lasting eight months in the job, while verified horror stories of workers denied bathroom breaks and short-changed in their pay cheques abounding.

So, think of it this way: if Amazon, the largest online retailer on Earth, whose founder has held the title of richest person alive, can be subject to legal issues, worker pushback, fines, and reputational damage for failing to follow correct termination procedures, consider how crucial it is for SMEs to ensure compliance.

To guarantee that you are following appropriate termination procedure, you must consider the local laws of the country in which you are operating. For companies that have recently expanded abroad or hired remote employees in other countries, it is crucial that all correct HR procedures are adhered to, as labour laws differ greatly from country to country.

For example, U.S. labour laws provide less protection for workers than elsewhere in the world, with employers legally allowed to terminate a worker effective immediately. This is because most U.S. employment relationships are at-will, meaning that “either the employer or the employee can terminate the relationship at any time and for any reason,” provided it is not discriminatory. This  may sound as though it provides a great deal of flexibility for employers and employees. But in reality, it can leave businesses open to disputes and industrial action, while also resulting in job insecurity for workers; leaving them without protections.

In Europe, the instant termination of employees for failure to follow a new directive or for unionising, as occurred in the outlined Amazon cases, would explicitly violate worker rights. European law dictates that employers must have strongly evidenced reason for dismissal and employees are entitled to notice periods, severance pay, and can claim wrongful dismissal if their employment contract is breached.

In Asia, while it is less common to fire employees, termination procedure is generally left at the discretion of the employer, and labour laws tend not to be as strict. For example, Japan operates on a ‘lifetime employment’ system, meaning that many people will work at the same company for life and it is unusual for an employee to be let go.

The New York Times (NYT) reports on ‘chasing out rooms,’ rooms in which employees who have exercised their right not to take early retirement - even when asked to by their company - sit for hours each day, underscoring what the NYT calls “an intensifying battle over hiring and firing practices in Japan, where lifetime employment has long been the norm and where large-scale layoffs remain a social taboo.”

While it is vital that your organisation remains compliant in all aspects of the hiring process, from onboarding to offboarding, termination practice is a key area in which businesses often fall down – leaving themselves open to legal action and reputational damage.

One way to avoid non-compliance is by using an Employer of Record (EoR) service. An Employer of Record ensures that your global talent have on-the-ground HR support from seasoned professionals with local expertise, who will guarantee that their rights are upheld every step of the way and that your business’ HR processes are 100% compliant from the recruitment stage to the end of an employee’s time with the company.

Mauve Group’s offers solutions in more 150 countries worldwide. If you’re interested in expanding abroad or hiring global talent remotely, speak to our team of experts.