Dismissal – An Employers Guide

Employers must be cautious when taking the decision to dismiss an employee as such action may leave the employer open to wrongful or unfair dismissal claims.

There must be a fair reason for the dismissal. The dismissal can only be for a fair reason if:
– it relates to the employee’s conduct;
– it relates to the employee’s capability or qualifications;
– it is because of redundancy;
-it is because the employee has reached the normal retirement age;
– continuing to employ the employee would be illegal, e.g. because the employee is a van driver and he has just received a driving ban; or
-it is for some other substantial reason. This is understood to be a fair reason that does not fall under the other categories.

A dismissal for any other reason would be unfair.

Generally, employees must have been employed for one year before they can bring a claim for unfair dismissal. However, certain types of dismissals are deemed automatically unfair and employees are protected as soon as they start work. These include dismissals for reasons connected to pregnancy, parental leave, requests for flexible working and whistleblowing.

An employer may still be held liable even if there is a fair reason for the dismissal if it does not follow a fair procedure when dismissing the employee. The employer should consult the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.

The employer must also show that it has acted reasonably in treating one of the fair reasons as a ground for the employee’s dismissal. For example, if the employee is found to be incapable of carrying out the job, the employer should give the employee timeto improve and may even be required to offer the employee appropriate training.

The employer should also ensure that it gives the employee his or her full notice period or pays the employee a payment in lieu of their notice period. An employer’s failure to give adequate notice or payment in lieu before dismissal is likely to result in a wrongful dismissal claim by the employee.

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