Ending Employment by Text Message – its not on!

The question was simple – “Can’t I just send him a text message?” The Manager was from one of our long term clients. We had been working with the Manager to assist him with a poor performing employee. After some months, we had reached a point where ending employment was the only option left.

He was looking for a way to avoid meeting with the employee. For him, a text message was a suitable form of communication. The company always communicated that way with employees.

Why is ending Employment by Text Message inappropriate?

Today, companies communicate with their teams in different ways. Text Messages and social media platforms are now preferred communication tools.

Ending employment is not a time where a “text” or “WeChat” message is appropriate. Ending employment is difficult for everyone concerned. It is not a pleasurable event.

Ask yourself – how would your team view you and your company if you used this method to communicate such an important message? Is that the way you want your company to be viewed?

The Fair Work Commission’s Position on “Texting” Termination Messages

The Fair Work Commission seems to agree with me (or should I say, I agree with them).

Their decisions on this subject are very plain. They do not like it.

They have been almost blunt in their view of this type of communication Their decisions contain words like “appalling”, “brutal”, “gutless” and “outrageous”.

Have a look at this decision from 2016 (see Para 34) for strong example of one opinion from the Commission: http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/cth/FWC/2016/2191.html?context=1;query=%22Rahim%20v%20Murdoch%20University%22;mask_path=

The alternative to Texting?

Meet face to face to communicate your decision. Allow the employee to provide you with feedback.

If working conditions do not allow people into the workplace, a video meeting is an acceptable alternative.

If a face to face meeting or video meeting is not possible – get on the phone and have the conversation.

Always communicate your decision in writing

You must communicate your decision in writing to your employee. This may be sent by email to your employee after your meeting.

It is also important to send a copy of the letter of termination by registered post to their home address.

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