Employee Dismissal

Employee Dismissal Procedures

Employee dismissal can be a tricky business so the correct procedures need to be followed. The dismissal must be fair and should include reasons such as inappropriate behaviour or inability to do the job.

Employee Dismissal Procedures


After one year of service, if the employee is unfairly dismissed they can make a claim for unfair dismissal. What may seem fair to even a reasonable employer can be found to be unfair if the correct procedures are not followed.

From 1st October 2004 employers are required to detail the dismissal and disciplinary procedures in writing and issue them to employees. The employees also need to be given the name of the person to whom they should apply if they are unhappy about a disciplinary, dismissal or grievance decision. Prior to 6 April 2009, the statutory dismissal and disciplinary procedures must be followed when contemplating dismissing an employee for one of the following reasons:

    • capability
    • conduct
    • redundancy – as long as there’s no obligation to consult collectively
    • non-renewal of a fixed-term contract
    • compulsory retirement

The statutory guidelines prior to 6 April 2009 provided for the following as a minimum for dealing with offences by employees…

Minor offences


An oral warning should be given for these detailing the reasons for the warning and the improvement required. A note should still be made of the warning and kept on file for a reasonable period of time.

Repeated minor offences and more serious offences


a written warning should be provided, detailing reasons for the warning and the improvement required. A copy should be kept on file for a longer period of time, perhaps a year.

Further misconduct or a major offence


a final written warning should be provided making it clear that dismissal may follow if there is a failure to comply. Again a copy should be kept on file, probably for a year.

At all stages the employee should be given a reasonable timescale to comply, informed of what the next stage in the disciplinary procedure will be if there is the failure to comply and informed of their right of appeal. If there is no improvement then after the appropriate procedures have taken place, disciplinary action can be taken including dismissal with the appropriate notice. The abuse must be particularly severe or replicated on more than one occasion to merit dismissal.

In England, Scotland, and Wales (but not Northern Ireland). The formal dismissal and disciplinary processes will discontinue as of 6 April 2009. This means that from that date, it is is no longer necessary to follow them when taking disciplinary action against an employee. Instead, you have to follow a fair and reasonable procedure. Follow the good practice guidelines laid down in the new ACAS Code of Practice. If you fail to do this and the issue goes to an employment tribunal, they could increase the employee’s compensation by up to 25%. Please note you can still follow the previous statutory guidance, although there is now no legal requirement to do so.

Gross misconduct


Gross misconduct is the only situation that may lead to instant dismissal. Even then the employer should suspend the employee on full pay. Carry out an investigation and give the employee a chance to explain their side. What constitutes gross misconduct can vary depending on the circumstances. Thus, employers should give plenty of examples of what they consider to be gross misconduct. Examples include…

  • Violent behaviour
  • Theft
  • Bullying
  • Serious insubordination
  • Use of alcohol or drugs on at work

How We Can Help You


If you need any more information on employee dismissal procedures, please contact us.

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