Can You Fire Someone for Sleeping on the Job?
Sleeping on the job is usually seen as a major offense—but is firing somebody for sleeping at work always the best solution?
What Are the Laws Around It?
Federal laws do not specifically mention sleeping on the job as a reason to terminate a person’s employment, but there are some instances where an employee’s behavior while sleeping—or the impact it has on their work—would make it reasonable to fire them.
The laws vary from state to state, but generally, employers must show cause to terminate a person’s employment. This means that an employer must show that the employee was actually sleeping, doing something inappropriate while asleep, or that there was a negative impact on their performance or safety as a result of their sleeping.
What Should an Employer Do?
Before an employer decides to fire somebody for sleeping on the job, there are some key points to consider.
- Warning: Give the employee one or more warnings (if appropriate) about their workplace behavior.
- Documentation: Create documentation about the warnings and meetings between management and the employee.
- Fairness: Be sure to be fair and consistent with policy. All employees should be held to the same standards.
The goal should be for the employee to realize their mistake, improve their behavior, and remain employed.
There may be times when it is reasonable to terminate an employee’s employment due to their sleeping on the job. However, employers should always consider the individual case and the impact on the employee before making the final decision.