Dismissals: Essential Information for Employers

Over the next two weeks, our blogs will be focusing on the topic of dismissal. Dismissing a staff member is a delicate process for employers and employees alike, which must be handled with care. This week, we’ll be discussing fair dismissals.

Fair Dismissals

The process must be carried out fairly and lawfully. How fair a dismissal is deemed to be depends on the reasoning behind it and the behaviour of the employer during the process.

A valid reason must be invoked before an employee contract can be prematurely ended. Valid reasons include:

  • Employee capability or conduct
  • Redundancy
  • A situation arising which prevents the employee from being legally able to do their job. (i.e. a driver losing their driving licence)
  • Some other substantial reason of a kind which justifies the dismissal.

The dismissing manager must be able to demonstrate that they have acted reasonably in treating their given reason as sufficient for termination.

Termination for conduct or performance reasons

An employer is within their rights to discontinue employment if a member of staff is incapable of doing their job to the required standard, unwilling or has committed some form of misconduct.

However, if the capability issue is linked to ill-health then employers must try to aid in any way they can before dismissing the employee.

Disciplinary procedures should be in place to handle the following types of unacceptable behaviour.

  • Misconduct

Misconduct can include behaviours such as repeated lateness or unauthorised absences. To ensure fairness, you must hold at least three meeting to discuss the issue and inform them of the risk of termination. If no improvement occurs, then the employer must make a decision and inform the employee.

  • Serious misconduct

A ‘first and final’ warning must be issued in writing if the misconduct is serious enough. It may have, or had the potential to, bring harm to the organisation. The employer has to explain the risk of dismissal in the warning.

  • Gross misconduct

This includes things like theft, physical violence, gross negligence or serious insubordination. In these circumstances, the employee may be dismissed immediately as long as the employee follows a fair procedure. The incident should be investigated and the individual be given an opportunity to respond before dismissal.

  • One- off incidents/ minor lapses in judgement

Here, an informal discussion can be arranged- especially if the employee has otherwise kept a clean disciplinary record. It is recommended that a record is kept of these conversations. Give the employee an opportunity to respond and set/agree actions for improvement with agreed timelines.


If there is no need for a specific role in the organisation, employers may be required to make redundancies. This can be due to:

  • The business is changing its activities
  • The business is altering its processes
  • The business or department is closing down.

Employers need to demonstrate that the employee’s job will no longer exist in order to make the redundancy genuine.

Dismissing team members can sometimes be a minefield for employers. Get in touch to discuss your business needs today!

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