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Have to tell someone we don't need them anymore

(17 Posts)
NCTryer Wed 12-Nov-14 00:43:48

I've NC for this as it's pretty sensitive. I'll try and be clear and not drip feed.

We have a business where our team are very important. We can only help our customers if we have staff in place, the right staff in each department.

We had one who had to go on indeterminate leave due to family issues who has recently decided not to come back. In the meantime I've had various people who have filled in but only part time and it's not quite covered the full time role. One of those part timers came to us to complete a qualification for which they need to work a certain number of hours. This person is inflexible with their times and takes lots of time off at times when we really need them, especially school holidays when the business owners also want to go on holidays.

More recently we have had someone come along who wants to do full time and we have offered them the position as they will not be taking the same amount of time off etc.

Now I have to tell the person who is really only using us to get their qualification that we no longer need them...

There is no problem contractually as they are a contractor and we only need to give a month's notice... but I'm struggling with how to actually phrase the conversation.

I didn't hire this person and I don't particularly think that they are of much use to the business (find that they only want what they want and don't feel any need to assist when we are desperate) but they are a person and they will have to go somewhere else to complete.

Anybody got any good ideas on how to phrase it, or am I overthinking it?
Perhaps I just need to tell her, kindly but firmly, that we no longer need her and that she will finish about a week before she was already going off on another 6 weeks of holidays?

Sorry this is so long. I hate this bit of managing sad

LadyCybilCrawley Wed 12-Nov-14 00:47:34

How much longer was she expecting to be with you ? And how much longer until she gets what she needs for the qualification?

How does she expect the job to be done when she is away for such long periods? Who steps in?

What does the contract say?

AnnieOnAMapleLeaf Wed 12-Nov-14 00:58:52

I do employment law for a living. I'll help. Talk to the employee and at the same time hand them a letter that says:

Dear [Employee],

We regret to inform you that your position with [company] will terminate effective [date]. The needs of the business have changed and, unfortunately, we are unable to continue to offer the part-time position you currently hold.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support during the course of your employment and wish you the best in your future endeavours.

To assist you in securing alternate employment, please find enclosed a letter of reference.



MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Wed 12-Nov-14 00:59:54

Are you sure she is definitely a contractor? If she is an employee depending on length of service you may not just be able to give notice and if you have already recruited someone else to do the role it would be extremely difficult to claim a redundancy situation.

But assuming she really is a contractor or she's got less than two years service the best thing to do is to keep it factual and do it quickly. How on earth did the 6 weeks holiday come about?

Did you offer your current person the extra hours? Is there a reason a full time person was taken on instead of advertising for another part time person?

Have you taken proper HR/legal advice?

NCTryer Wed 12-Nov-14 01:20:22

Thanks folks. To answer:

Lady Cybil I have no idea how much longer she was expecting to be here - she avoids me most of the time and I didn't hire her. The contract says a month notice.

Annie I like the way you think. Makes sure it's all clear.

MovingOn She's a self-employed contractor. It is industry standard that people doing this job are often contractors even if they are long term in the business (the owners are also contractors rather than employees). She decided to take the leave and told me rather than asking, and without considering how we would cover for her when other people had already requested and been granted time (also contractors but long term, full time). Full time role was offered to the new person as that was what we have been looking for someone to do (and we couldn't get someone who was prepared to work around this person's work patterns) - it was offered to her first but she wants to work 1 day per week every week and on every third week work an extra day to cover the number of hours she needs, which sometimes means that she and others are sitting around with not enough customers to fill their time but still being paid (I know we shouldn't have allowed this situation, the person who hired her did it while I was on sick leave and is a soft touch).

It's more about what to actually say to her - I feel awful and I don't think she's going to take it well, but at the same time I have to consider the needs of the business and our customers. I do feel that I should have at least the initial conversation in person rather than by email or letter though.

sillymillyb Wed 12-Nov-14 01:31:15

I have no experience of this recently, but how about taking letter as advised up thread, inviting her into meeting and then saying,

Hi x, thank you for coming to see me today. As you know we have been looking for someone full time to cover this position. We have now recruited for that role and so unfortunately will no longer need your services from x date. Thank you so much for your work so far, please don't hesitate to contact us for references or if there is anything we can do to help further down the line.

Hand her the letter <run>

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Wed 12-Nov-14 01:31:59

I see. Yes definitely in person, then send a confirmation letter afterwards.

Hold a meeting at the end of the day so she can go straight home. You don't want an upset person hanging around the office. Book the meeting in advance and at the meeting something along the lines of "X I need to tell you we are terminating your contract. Under the terms of our agreement we need to give you x weeks notice so your last day will be on Y. Thank you for being part of our team and we wish you all the best for the future."

You could offer to give her a reference or an endorsement if you want to sweeten the pill. Also be prepared that she might not work the notice period.

FishWithABicycle Wed 12-Nov-14 01:40:53

I'm not an employment law specialist but I think there has been recent legislation to prevent employers from avoiding employment rights by calling people self-employed contractors. It may be that the law states you must treat her as an employee despite what the contract says.

IIRC a self-employed contractor is supposed to be free to perform the required work at a time of their own choosing and free to subcontract some of the work (with whatever financial arrangements they see fit) if they so choose. You may be obliged to pay redundancy etc anyway. Have a proper hunt for the relevant rules on the govt website.

If you are satisfied that she is a contractor not an employee then don't use Annie's wording, which is phrasing things in employment terms. If what you are doing is terminating a contract in accordance with contract t&c then avoid using the word employment at all.

EBearhug Wed 12-Nov-14 02:13:33

You could probably use most of Annie's wording but change things like "position" to contract.

From what you've said about her work, she wouldn't have much to handover, but I may be wrong about that. If you don't think it will go well, do you think she would feel vindictive at all? If so, it would be better to terminate her access as soon as you've given notice, and offer pay in lieu of notice.

NCTryer Wed 12-Nov-14 02:16:51

Should add that I'm not in the UK (sorry, I should have said that at the beginning).

Thank you all very much for your advice though, and for allowing me to vent so that I didn't absolutely explode!

AnnieOnAMapleLeaf Wed 12-Nov-14 04:58:02

Good point made earlier about ensuring the letter references "contract" rather than "position". You don't want to leave any room for confusion or potential reprisals later.

As was mentioned, I would suggest you call the employee in to meet with you at the end of her shift. Tell her the reasons why she is being let go and follow that conversation up with the letter.

Make sure you have a contingency plan re: staffing needs should she decide to quit on the spot and not work her notice period. It's unlikely but it has happened before.

I know it is awful having to terminate a member of staff but unfortunately it is part of being an owner/manager of a business.

Best of luck!

LadyCybilCrawley Wed 12-Nov-14 05:10:23

I think keep it authentic and keep it simple and have the letter ready to hand to her after you speak as Annie sagely advises.

Keep it short and resist the temptation to justify or ramble.

"I am sorry but due to changing business needs we no longer are able to continue your contract. Per the terms of your contract we are providing you with one months notice. Thanks for all you've done"

And Pass her the letter.

Done. Don't engage in answering questions about why or justifying your decision. Just repeat "the decision has been made" over and over again in a calm voice (in helps if you channel mrs doubt fire - I find that always gets me in the right frame of mind - kind but firm)

EBearhug Wed 12-Nov-14 08:57:45

If you're not in the UK, make sure you've checked whatever rules apply locally. My department is spread across EMEA, and it's interesting how different the various countries' rules are on things like redundancy, so I'd assume there could be differences on terminating a contract, too. You should check, in any case, so you are sure.

Chunderella Wed 12-Nov-14 09:53:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Wed 12-Nov-14 11:21:26

Well exactly, which is why I asked up thread about advice because in the UK the situation as described is highly likely to be one of an employee/employer. In the UK it really isn't enough to just declare yourself self employed and establishing employee status is complicated because there isn't a clear definition outlined in law and there is a difference between the law regarding tax and employment law.

In the UK you can also be a contractor and an employee or a contractor and self employed depending on the terms of the contract. And by contract I mean contract in the legal sense with explicit and implied terms and regard given to custom and proactive - not just the piece of paper contract.

AnnieOnAMapleLeaf Wed 12-Nov-14 11:44:40

Where are you OP? I am sure there is someone on MN who would have knowledge of employment law in your area. FWIW I am in Canada.

NCTryer Thu 13-Nov-14 00:20:48

Thank you so much everyone for your advice. I'm in NZ and am lucky enough to have pretty free access to legal employment advice specific to the industry so that was good as far as the contract goes.

I have had a talk to her and given her the letter. It wasn't an easy conversation and she did have some justifications for why we shouldn't do it (mostly around her desire to not have to find somewhere else to complete her qualification), but in the end I did as suggested and just repeated that due to business needs the decision had been made. Letter given and all is okay at the moment.

wine was needed last night though (tequila was consumed however...)

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