Bringing employment to an end

When you build up a team, you choose the people who you believe are right for your business. However, no one gets it right every time. Bad employees can affect the rest of the team and damage your culture. If, after trying to improve performance or correct misbehaviour, there is still a problem or the offence is really serious, then dismissal may be the only option.

Whatever the cause, dismissal must follow a fair, consistent and legal process. Employees have the right not to be unfairly dismissed. Unfair dismissal claims have been known to cost some employers more than £400,000.

To assist your disciplinary and grievance process and inform any decisions of dismissal, it is important to have the correct policies in place. Policies that cover employee conduct and performance set out your expectations at the beginning of the employment relationship. When these policies are drafted and communicated effectively, they’ll protect your business in the event of misconduct or poor performance that must lead to dismissal. We can write your policies and provide the guidance to ensure a legally compliant dismissal process.

What is a dismissal?

A dismissal is when an employer ends an employee’s contract, with, or if for Gross Misconduct without, notice. A dismissal can happen at any time. It could be halfway through a contract or at the end when an employer chooses not to renew it.

Dismissals can happen for any number of reasons, too. It could be an economic turndown that forces the employer to make redundancies, or the dismissal might be due to poor performance or misconduct on the part of the employee.

Employers must be fair and reasonable when deciding whether to dismiss an employee. If they aren’t, the employee can make a claim for unfair dismissal, regardless of whether the reason for the dismissal was valid. Employers need to be particularly careful where allegations of discrimination could be brought as employees do not need two years’ service to file a claim and awards are unlimited.

Why getting dismissals right is important for your business

No matter what type of business you have, having the correct dismissal procedures in place and having people around that know how to fairly and legally dismiss employees is important for making sure your business runs smoothly.

When dismissing an employee, one wrong move could lead to the employee filing an unfair dismissal claim — which could end in a trip to court. As well as the time, stress and potential costs involved with a court appearance, unfair dismissals can hurt your business’s reputation if word gets out that you’ve treated an employee unfairly.

It can also have a negative effect on other employees, too. If an employee sees a colleague filing an unfair dismissal claim, doubts could creep in and they could start to look for a move elsewhere.

How The HR Dept can help you

Dismissing employees can be a tricky thing to navigate, especially if you haven’t done it before. Our specialists are on-hand to support you from start to finish, offering advice and guidance every step of the way.

To ensure your dismissals are procedurally correct, we’ll get to know your business and the reasons for your dismissal before we do anything else. We’ll advise you on the best approach before helping you carry out the dismissal.

Dismissing an employee that has been on long-term sick leave can be challenging for some companies. While you may be sympathetic, there are times when a person’s health can seriously affect their ability to work, which makes it difficult to manage your business. In this situation, we can clarify the process, explaining the medical guidance and occupational health reports.

If you are dreading the difficult conversations that can arise as a result of this process, we can be there to support you. Or even have the conversation for you. This gives you peace of mind that it will be done compassionately, professionally and safely for you and your business.

If you need help with a potential dismissal, contact our expert team of HR professionals today.

Up next find out more about leavers checklist

Dismissals FAQ

What is the minimum notice period for termination of employment?

How much notice you need to give employees depends on how long they’ve been at the company. Employees who have been working at your company for less than a month have no legal right to be given notice.

For everyone else, the following applies:

  • For employees who have been with you continuously for less than two years, you must give at least one week’s notice.
  • For employees who have been with you continuously between two and 12 years, you must give them at least a week’s notice for each year of service.
  • For employees who have been with you continuously for more than 12 years, you must give them at least 12 weeks’ notice.

What is unlawful termination of employment?

A wrongful or unfair dismissal is when an employer breaches an employee’s contract. This often relates to notice or notice pay. The two most common examples of wrongful dismissals are:

  • Dismissing an employee without giving them notice or notice pay.
  • Not giving an employee the notice they’re entitled to.

Bear in mind that an employee can make a wrongful dismissal claim even if they’ve only worked for your company for one year.

What are the 5 fair reasons for dismissal?

In the UK, there are typically five separate categories of fair dismissal. While each of the following is considered a fair dismissal, one thing to bear in mind is that you must also act fairly during the dismissal process to avoid a legal claim for unfair dismissal.

The 5 fair dismissals are:

  • Conduct / Misconduct
  • Capability / Performance
  • Redundancy
  • Statutory illegality or breach of a statutory restriction
  • Sub other substantial reason

Is it legal to dismiss an employee?

Dismissing an employee is legal, presuming you stick to everything in the employee’s contract and follow the minimum notice period for termination of employment set out by the government. Failing to do this may result in an employee making a wrongful dismissal claim, which will look bad on your business and could mean you end up in court.

If you want to dismiss an employee quickly and without a formal warning, you can only do this if they have committed gross misconduct. But even so, before terminating their employment, you must have carried out a thorough investigation and gathered sufficient evidence to prove the offence.

Who has authority to dismiss an employee?

Only a person with the authority to do so should dismiss an employee. Typically, this will be a manager or someone high up in the company.

Whoever is in charge of the dismissal must inform the employee of the reason(s) for the dismissal, as well as the date on which the employment contract will end, the notice period, and their right to appeal the dismissal.

What is the role of HR during an employee termination?

HR professionals can guide the employee termination process, ensuring the correct steps are in place while minimising the risk of a potential fallout should the employee believe it’s an unfair dismissal.

Is termination of employment the same as being fired?

In short, yes. If an employee is fired, they are terminated from their employment. The reason for a termination depends, it could be for misconduct, poor performance or because they’re not the right fit for a role or company. Regardless of the reason for the dismissal, the employer must let the employee know why they have let them go.

Need help fairly dismissing an employee?

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