Dismissing an employee is not an easy task. If you’ve never had to dismiss an employee before, you need to be prepared when you do it for the first time. As an entrepreneur or small business owner, it can be one of the most challenging parts of the job, especially if you’re dismissing somebody who you’ve built a relationship with over a long period of time.
When a dismissal is not done in the correct way, it can cause serious problems for a business. The worst result is that the employee takes legal action on the grounds of ‘unfair dismissal’, which can be costly and time-consuming — something neither party wants.
Learning what to say and understanding fair grounds for dismissal means taking steps to prevent such a situation from occurring. If you thoroughly prepare yourself, the process will be significantly easier, which will benefit your company in many ways.
Below, we explain how you can be prepared and what you should say to make the reason why you’re dismissing your employee from their role as clear as possible.
If the time comes that you do need to dismiss an employee, familiarising yourself with the law beforehand is essential.
There are three main kinds of dismissal: fair dismissal, constructive dismissal and unfair dismissal. You must ensure that your reasons for dismissing an employee do not fall under the latter category.
Fair dismissal means you have reasonable and fair grounds to dismiss an employee. Dismissal is fair if the employee has broken the law or their conduct is not in line with that of the company, though there are other grounds for fair dismissal. Some of the expectations of an employee will be written into their employment contract. In all cases of dismissal, you must provide evidence to support your reasoning.
A constructive dismissal refers to when the company changes the contract of employment and the employee is forced to leave their role because of said changes. For example, if an employee has a pay decrease or their compensation package is removed. A constructive dismissal still has to be done in a fair way, which means discussing any changes with the employee and giving them reasonable notice.
You need to be aware of what constitutes as ‘unfair dismissal.’ There are a number of reasons why dismissal might be classified as unfair. Any reason related to pregnancy and maternity, involvement in a trade union, political or religious opinions are, amongst others, forms of unfair dismissal.
If one of these reasons, or any others listed by legislation, form your grounds for dismissing an employee, this may not be lawful and the employee will have the right to file a lawsuit against your company.
If you know that you are dismissing an employee fairly or constructively, you should first plan a meeting with the employee. Always give advance notice, of at least 48 hours, so that the employee can prepare.
At the meeting, you must clearly explain the grounds for dismissal and include evidence to support your conclusion. Always allow time for the employee to respond and ask their own questions.
After the initial meeting, the employee has time to appeal the dismissal before the date they are due to leave. Five days is a reasonable amount of time for the employee to appeal the decision. If, after the five-day period, the employee has not appealed and you still wish to terminate the employment, you can then do so.
Nobody wants to leave a business on bad terms and you don’t want to leave any employee with a lasting negative opinion of your business. Be sensitive to the individual and, where possible, remain amicable.
Dismissing an employee and understanding what constitutes as fair dismissal can be difficult, so an employment lawyer can also advise you before you begin the process. If your employee decides to make a case against you for unfair dismissal, you should always consider consulting an employment lawyer. Mistakes can be costly.
Author: Chris Austin
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