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What are reasonable grounds for dismissing a member of staff?

What is a fair dismissal?

Dismissal of an employee will only be fair if the employer can show that the reason for it was one of those listed below and, except where the reason for dismissal is the retirement of the employee, the tribunal is satisfied that the employer acted reasonably in the circumstances in treating that reason as sufficient to justify dismissing the employee.

The reasons are:

  • a reason related to the employee's capability or qualification for the job;

  • a reason related to the employee's conduct;

  • from 1 October 2006, the retirement of the employee; 

  • redundancy (broadly, this is where the employer's need for employees to do certain work has ceased or diminished or is expected to do so);

  • a statutory restriction on either the employer or the employee which prevents the employment being continued;

  • some other substantial reason which could justify the dismissal.

In deciding whether the employer acted reasonably in dismissing the employee the tribunal will take account, amongst other factors, of whether he or she followed appropriate disciplinary procedures.

On 1st October 2004, the statutory dismissal and disciplinary procedures came into force, where those procedures apply and are not treated as having been complied with, a dismissal will be unfair if an employee is dismissed without the statutory procedure having been followed.

Where retirement is shown to be the reason for dismissal, whether the dismissal is fair will depend on whether the employer complied with the duty to consider working beyond retirement.

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