I am a supervisor and one of my employees did something real bad that justified immediate termination. I told my boss we should wait a day before informing the employee because the incident took place on the employee’s birthday. I thought firing him on his birthday would make us look insensitive. My boss disagreed and we fired my employee on his special day. I think this unnecessarily exposed us to extra risk if the employee sues because it makes us look mean. Do you think there really would have been a risk created by waiting a day?
Definitely. It would create the risk that people would think you are too dumb to know the meaning of the word “immediate”. I bet your Code of Conduct says major infractions are those that will result in “immediate discipline up to and including termination” as opposed to “discipline in a day or two”.
Your problem is you. You are a softie. Still, all is not lost. There is a way for you to respect the policy about immediate termination while also recognizing the importance of your misbehaving employee’s “special day”. Here’s what you should say to accomplish the balancing act:
“Happy birthday and many returns of the day! Here’s some cake. You know how when they blow out candles, people often wish they did not have to go to work? Well, I have some great news for you!”
— Evil Skippy
I agree with ES that when it comes to major infractions, birthdays should not matter. In other circumstances, it might be more humane to wait a day. For example, if you were doing a large number of evaluations over a course of several days and knew the birthday boy would be disappointed with his review, it would be fine to pick a different day than the birthday to conduct the session.
Keep in mind that in some cases, “immediate” will mean immediately after some sort of investigation. If you saw your employee assault another employee, you would immediately take action. (Depending on the severity of the conduct, that action might be calling law enforcement and/or firing the assaulter). On the other hand, if one employee accused another of the same assault but there were no witnesses, you would need to investigate before making a discipline decision.
Readers – do you agree or disagree with ES that sometimes firing a person on his or her birthday will be a good choice? Or should supervisors avoid ruining a birthday?