Originallly posted March 2013
In the world of “Reality” TV, all Lord Sugar has to say is “You’re fired” and that’s the end of his relationship with a problem employee. However, as he’s finding out currently, in real life things just aren’t that simple. If an expert like him can apparently get it wrong, is there any hope for smaller businesses and organisations? Well, yes – just read on
Sacking someone is a big step and as an employer what you need to do is ensure that you have done everything properly – by having a fair reason and following a fair procedure.
“Fair” in this situation doesn’t imply any moral judgment (something employees often forget) – in the UK there are only 5 legally “fair” reasons to dismiss someone:
- Capability (the person’s inability to do the job you employed them to do)
- Conduct (the person’s behaviour in work)
- Legal Restriction (some other aspect of law prevents you continuing to employ them – for example a driver who is banned from driving by the courts)
- Redundancy (you are ceasing to carry out the work the person undertakes, or need fewer people to do it).
- Some Other Substantial Reason (I love this legal phrase, so vague that it can keep armies of lawyers in a job – but essentially it means a significant breakdown in the working relationship that doesn’t fall into the other four categories)
A fair process means that you must
- Make the person aware of why you are considering their dismissal (and allow them to see any evidence that you may be using to support this)
- Give them the chance to put their side of the story before making your decision
- Allow them to be accompanied at any meeting by a work colleague or union rep
- Give them the right to appeal if you do sack them
While this won’t prevent someone making a claim at an Employment Tribunal if they feel they have a case, making sure that you’ve got a fair reason and followed a fair procedure will ensure that you have a strong defence to any claim.