Time to test your Employment Law IQ again! Consider this scenario:employee handbook

Mike R. Clean hired Tommy as a night-time janitor at Squeak E Clean, Inc. During the first month of his employment, Tommy was a super star, but his performance went downhill quickly after that. Mike tried to coach Tommy, but Tommy just could not get it together. At the end of Tommy’s second month at Squeak E Clean, Mike terminated Tommy’s employment. A couple of weeks later, Mike was shocked when he found out Tommy would not only get unemployment, but it was going to be charged to Squeak E Clean’s account.

Why are Tommy’s unemployment benefits being charged to Squeak E Clean’s account?

A.  Because Tommy was not terminated for gross misconduct.

B.  Because Squeak E. Clean did not notify Tommy of the probationary period within the first 7 days of his employment.

C.  Because Mike did not write Tommy up before he was terminated.

D.  None of the above.

The correct answer is B. Section 443, Florida Statutes, allows employers to avoid being charged for unemployment benefits if an employee is terminated for unsatisfactory performance during the initial probationary period of employment, which cannot exceed 90 days. However, the employer must have an established probationary policy, and the employee must be notified of the probationary period within the first 7 days of employment. A is incorrect because Tommy would likely not get benefits at all if he was terminated for gross misconduct. C is incorrect because there is no requirement in the unemployment statute that an employee be written up prior to termination.

HR TAKEAWAY:  The best practice is to address the probationary period not only in the employee handbook, but also in a separate acknowledgement, given to and signed by the employee within the first 7 days of employment.