What are the procedures which must be followed when dismissing an employee?

In England and Wales, the procedures for dismissing an employee depend on various factors, including the length of their employment, the reason for dismissal and whether they have any statutory employment rights. Here is a general overview of the procedures to follow when dismissing an employee:

1. Identify a Valid Reason for Dismissal:

Before proceeding with dismissal, it is crucial to have a valid reason recognised by employment law. Valid reasons can include poor performance, misconduct, redundancy or a breach of employment contract. It is important to gather evidence and document any relevant incidents or issues leading to the decision to dismiss.

2. Provide Notice or Pay in Lieu:

Employees with continuous employment of at least one month are entitled to a minimum notice period. The notice period can be specified in the employment contract or the statutory minimum notice period, whichever is longer. Alternatively, employers can choose to pay the employee in lieu of notice (often called “garden leave”).

3. Follow a Fair Procedure:

To ensure a fair dismissal, employers should follow a fair procedure, which typically includes the following steps:

a. Investigation: Conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the potential dismissal. This may involve gathering evidence, interviewing relevant parties and giving the employee an opportunity to present their side of the story.

b. Inform the Employee: Arrange a meeting with the employee to discuss the concerns and inform them of the potential dismissal. Provide them with all relevant evidence and allow them to respond to the allegations.

c. Right to be Accompanied: Employees have the right to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union representative at any disciplinary or dismissal meetings.

d. Disciplinary Meeting: Hold a disciplinary meeting to discuss the issues and allow the employee to present their case. Consider any mitigating factors or explanations provided by the employee.

e. Decision: After considering all the evidence and the employee’s response, make a decision regarding dismissal. Ensure the decision is fair, reasonable and proportionate to the circumstances.

f. Appeal: Provide the employee with the opportunity to appeal the decision if they wish to do so. Hold an appeal meeting, if required, and consider any new evidence or arguments presented.

4. Statutory Rights and Redundancy:

If the dismissal is due to redundancy, additional procedures must be followed, including consultation with affected employees and consideration of suitable alternative employment options.

5. Speak to us first:

It is advisable to consult with an employment law specialist or seek legal advice throughout the dismissal process to ensure compliance with all legal requirements and to minimise the risk of potential claims.

Please note that this is a general overview, and specific circumstances may require additional or different procedures. It is always recommended to seek professional legal advice tailored to your specific situation.

If you are an employer looking to dismiss or make an employee redundant, firstly, be careful! Employment law can be a minefield. Get it wrong and you could have a hefty claim against you for unfair dismissal. That’s why it’s always best to speak to an employment lawyer to ensure that you have covered off all eventualities. At Alexander JLO we are here to support your business from start up all the way through. Why not give us a call on 020 7537 7000 or email peter@london-law.co.uk to see what we can do for you?

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