Terminating your caregiver’s contract will never be an easy thing to do. But sometimes, for whatever reason, it may be necessary.
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If you face this situation, we’ve put together 12 steps to firing a caregiver responsibly:
1. Pinpoint the problem
Before you rush to fire, identify why the caregiver isn’t working out. Are they minor things that you can discuss and work on? Ask family members for input. This list will also give you tools to talk about termination with your caregiver in a professional, less personal manner. You can’t fire someone just because you don’t like them – stop and ask yourself what you don’t like, such as eye rolling or yelling at the kids.
2. Establish clear expectations
An employee can’t be expected to meet your expectations if you haven’t communicated them clearly, preferably in writing. If you haven’t already, create an employment contract that spells everything out. Is your caregiver no longer following what’s written down? Or have your priorities changed and you need to update the contract?
Communication might eliminate the need to make a change. Parents often act out of fear and insecurity, rather than communicate what is expected and conversely, what is inappropriate.
3. Document your grievances
Document each conversation you have with a caregiver who isn’t up to par. Then date them and both of you sign them. Let your employee know, after one or two times of discussing the issue, that if the behaviour continues, they will no longer be able to work for you.
4. Take the decision
If attempts to shift the situation have failed and, after careful thought, you know you cannot continue with your current caregiver, put the pieces in place to make a change. Hire backup care to fill the gap until you can find someone new.
5. Schedule a talk
Schedule time for a short conversation. If you’re more comfortable having someone there with you, that’s fine, as long as you don’t let the caregiver feel ganged up on.
The people who should absolutely not be there with you, however, are your kids. There’s no need to expose children to this type of adult situation and this could also embarrass the caregiver.
6. Strong but compassionate
Be sure you’re absolutely firm in your decision. If you’re wishy-washy and you allow the caregiver to talk you out of it, you’re setting yourself up for a difficult situation moving forward. But show compassion. Keep the conversation short and have it at the end of a business day. If possible, give notice or severance pay and never withhold payment for services already provided.
7. Respond to unemployment questions
If you’ve been paying taxes, your caregiver may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Let her know you’ll respond to any inquiries into their application for these benefits.
8. Arrange severance payment
An employee has the right to collect severance pay if they have completed at least 12 consecutive months of continuous employment before their layoff or dismissal resulted in a termination of employment. They are entitled to two days’ regular wages for each full year that they worked for the employer before their termination of employment. The minimum benefit is five days’ wages.
For more information visit the Government of Canada website.
9. Provide a recommendation
Unless the termination was for safety issues or gross negligence, offer the caregiver a letter of recommendation. Someone who was not right for your family may be perfect for someone else’s.
10. Request personal items
During this meeting, make sure you also get your keys back, as well as any personal property and credit cards your caregiver has.
11. Update the appropriate parties
If your nanny or sitter has been picking your child up from school or day care, let the offices or teachers know immediately (both in person and in writing) that a change has been made. Inform your neighbours, if that feels necessary.
12. Speak with your kids
If the person moving on cared for your children, an abrupt change could be very startling to them. Explain the reasons for your decision, but be prepared for them to still feel upset.
Letting someone go is never easy, but sometimes it’s necessary. By showing understanding and professionalism, you can make sure your family is well taken care of and able to move forward in a proactive, positive way.
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