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What are reasonable grounds for dismissing a member of staff?

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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.

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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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Further information

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Unfair Dismissal occurs when your employer dismisses you for an unfair reason and/or they do not follow the correct procedure for the dismissal.

A Claim for Unfair Dismissal must be submitted to an Employment Tribunal within three months less one day from the effective date of termination of the employment (usually the date of leaving the job).

Your dismissal may be deemed as “fair” if it was for one of the following reasons:

  • Conduct
  • Capability or qualifications for the job
  • Redundancy
  • Illegality
  • Some other substantial reason of a kind which justifies your dismissal

If your Employer is going to dismiss you they should:

  • Advise you that they are commencing a procedure that may culminate in your dismissal
  • Invite you to a meeting and inform you of their decision
  • Allow you the right to appeal your dismissal

To have an Unfair Dismissal claim, you need to consider:

  • Have you been employed for 2 years? If not, you cannot make a claim for Unfair Dismissal unless one of the statutory exceptions applies.
  • Was there a fair reason for your dismissal?
  • Was it reasonable for your employer to dismiss you?
  • Was a fair procedure followed?

Wrongful Dismissal occurs when your employer breaches the terms of your employment contract by dismissing you. For example, by not giving you the required notice period. Your employer may be entitled to dismiss you without notice if they can show that the reason for your dismissal was gross misconduct.

You can issue such proceedings in an Employment Tribunal. However there is a cap on the amount of compensation that can be recovered; currently this is £25,000. Therefore it may be better to bring a civil claim in the County Courts for breach of contract, depending on the size of your claim. Please note that if you are bringing proceedings in the County Court, there will be a court fee to pay and this will be dependent on the size of your claim.

Yes, this must be offered and dealt with by someone more senior.