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Susan M. Heathfield

Is It My Job to Fire Employees?

By April 23, 2014

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Nothing is as confusing to many readers than the parameters and responsibilities of the role of HR staff. I receive frequent questions that tell me that the HR person's organization thinks that she or he should fire employees, discipline employees, write employees up, and hire employees.

Nothing is farther from the reality of how these employment actions should occur. These roles are not in the HR job description.

These responsibilities are in the job descriptions of managers and supervisors for many reasons. The most important reason is that the HR person wasn't there - for any of it. She or he has only hearsay evidence about what occurred from the manager or supervisor.

So, too, with hiring employees. The new employee will not report to the HR staff person who has only second hand knowledge about the job's requirements and the supervisor's needs. The key interaction during interviews is the interaction of the candidate with the hiring manager and his or potential coworkers.

The Role of HR Staff

The HR professional's role is to provide support to the manager or supervisor as she or he performs these tasks that are integral in their jobs supervising and leading employees. The HR staff person specifically should provide these kinds of support.

  • Training for managers and supervisors in all aspects of employment including interviewing, selection, discipline, and how to legally and ethically fire an employee,
  • Guidance, written policies, and procedures to give direction and consistency in employment actions,
  • Counsel and coaching to assist managers to do their jobs effectively,
  • Presence to witness the employment action and to help steer a meeting that heads awry,
  • Documentation assistance so the records are accurate, legal, and will withstand scrutiny in a court of law,
  • Feedback during employee selection about potential cultural fit and effectiveness of the candidate, and
  • Background checking to ensure that you are hiring the employee who you think you are hiring.

The list goes on and on, and I have written extensively about the role of HR staff in an organization. I am interested to know what you think. Am I crazy or is this the way it's supposed to work?

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More About the HR Role

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