The most common reasons for dismissing an employee are:
These are known as “potentially fair reasons”. However, not only must you have a fair reason for terminating the contract, you must also follow a fair procedure.
In most cases, formal disciplinary action should only be taken if informal methods have failed to resolve the problem and dismissal should be the last resort. The Acas Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance sets out the principles for handling disciplinary situations, up to and including dismissal. Although the Code is not, in itself, legally enforceable, employment tribunals will take it into account and you may be ordered to pay increased compensation if you fail to follow it. (It does not cover redundancy or non-renewal of fixed-term contracts.)
Employees have the right not to be unfairly dismissed. In most circumstances they will need at least one year's continuous service when their employment ends. Employees whose employment started on or after 6 April 2012, need two years’ service.
However, there is no length of service requirement in relation to 'automatically unfair grounds'. Dismissals are classed as 'automatically unfair', regardless of the reasonableness, if an employee is exercising a specific right in relation to:
- pregnancy and maternity
- parental and paternity leave
- adoption leave or time off for dependants
- trade union membership and union recognition
- part-time and fixed-term employees
- discrimination because of: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation
- pay and working hours
Contact us for more information about dismissal.