Nobody wants to have to dismiss an employee. Not only can it be a daunting process, necessitating a difficult conversation with the employee involved, but if run unfairly can result in a tribunal claim. So, if you are in a position where you need to let an employee go, how can you perform a dismissal legally, safely, and fairly?
How To Dismiss an Employee in the UK
Follow you Company’s disciplinary procedure
Except for gross misconduct, you will need to follow your disciplinary procedure, as set out in your disciplinary policy, ensuring you provide warnings and real opportunities for the employee to improve their conduct. We work with all our clients to make sure that their disciplinary procedure is compliant, appropriate to their business, and embedded in good practice.
Notes and evidence gathering
Having written evidence demonstrates that you have followed a process that is fair and that all reasonable steps have be taken to avoid the need for performing a dismissal.
A Fair and valid reason for a dismissal
To be deemed fair, you must show that your decision was driven by one of five specific reasons:
- Capability or qualifications
- Illegality or contravene of a statutory duty
- Some other substantial reason
Without clearly linking the dismissal to the above, the employee may challenge this decision as being unfair or invalid. One helpful suggestion would be to simply ask yourself “Why do I need to dismiss this employee?” Your ease of response and ability to provide evidence should illustrate whether your actions are fair or not.
Do not discriminate
Make sure that you do not discriminate against an employee with a protected characteristic, for example age, sex, disability etc. Reasonable adjustments can be introduced to accommodate difficulties around performance where a protected characteristic is concerned.
Employees with over 2 years’ service may challenge a dismissal as being unfair if the disciplinary procedure is not run fairly. However, if the reason to perform a dismissal is deemed discriminatory, this is considered automatically unfair and does not require the 2 years of employment.
Invitation to a disciplinary meeting
A written invitation should be sent, advising the employee that they have the right to be accompanied but that a dismissal could be a potential outcome of the meeting. Include the reasons that dismissal could be a potential outcome and the evidence you hold against them. This provides the employee the opportunity to consider this and best prepare for the meeting.
A private room with no risk of interruptions is ideal. Bringing in a note taker will help you to concentrate on the procedures and provide a record / witness to the hearing. Focusing on the objective reasons for the meeting will help you stay focused. Having a script can keep you on track. These are all issues that Wurkplace can help you with – If you need support, guidance, or even just document templates.
Adjourn the meeting
We recommend adjourning the meeting before making your final decision. This gives you a chance to review the discussion and evidence Being clear with the employee what you are doing and the timeframe for delivering the outcome is important. Pausing for reflection demonstrates a considered approach with no preconceived outcomes. A helpful tip is to draft your response in writing during the adjournment to help you deliver the verdict clearly and confidently.
Communicate the Outcome
Calmness and clarity are important at this stage. If dismissal is the outcome, then reiterating the reasons for this decision is necessary. The timeframe for this communication depends on many things. For example, the complexity of the previous meeting just held. It also depends on the emotion levels of both parties, and everyone’s availability.
Right to appeal
This is a critical element of ensuring you perform a fair dismissal. Confirm with the employee their rights and the deadlines around this.
Confirmation in writing
Writing up the meeting and its outcome decision, must follow. Confirm your reasons for wanting to dismiss an employee. Arrangements around pay in lieu of notice, holiday accrual, returning of work property, and final day of employment should all be clarified. Make sure your reasons for dismissal are fair, clear, and robust as they may use these in an unfair dismissal claim.
Considering your workforce
Be mindful of your other members of staff. Communicating what has happened, and that it is not a company issue, should reassure workers that their jobs are not at risk, whilst simultaneously clearly demonstrating the consequences of ongoing poor performance or serious bad behaviour. Above all be consistent. A clear and fair process is key, but similarly, applying this process consistently is vital.
For more help and information regarding instant dismissal (summary dismissal), dismissing an individual during probation, and dismissing an employee without a contract, please get in touch – We can guide you through more complex processes and scenarios.
Dismissals are a last resort. Positive approaches such as training, coaching, and counselling may be helpful – Especially in cases that relate to performance or conduct. This should be on the table for consideration before resorting to dismissal. A clear process, definitive evidence and compassion towards the employee ensure both parties can take the steps through this procedure fairly and confidently. Thereby minimising the risk of unnecessary distress and a potential unfair dismissal claim.
If you want to continue the conversation, you can always get in touch. We can try and avoid the dismissal altogether by helping embed proper practices from the get go. Contact us via our quick online form, or give us a call on: 0330 400 5490.
With over 15 years of generalist HR experience, Graihagh has a strong background in progressive organisational cultures, start-ups, and business partnering.