The purpose of the dismissal procedures is to make sure that everything has been looked at fairly and properly so that an employer can decide if dismissal is a reasonable response to the situation.
Procedural errors can result in a finding that a dismissal was unfair on procedural grounds even when it was justified by the circumstances. They can also result in a tribunal award being increased by up to 25% so it is important to make sure that they are carried out properly.
There are some common mistakes that employers make when going through the dismissal procedures. We have set out for you the key steps you need to follow to avoid the main problem areas.
- Tell the employee what the allegations are so they know what they have to answer.
- Give them copies of the evidence that you are going to refer to so that they can comment on it or put it into context.
- Tell them what the outcome could be so that they know how seriously this is viewed.
- Tell your employee of their right to be accompanied and check with them at the start of the meeting if they wish to exercise that right.
- Check the reliability of the evidence so that you can be satisfied that you are giving it the appropriate weight.
- Deal with matters promptly so that everything is fresh, any additional evidence is easier to obtain and it shows that you consider it to be important.
- Keep clear records of everything, including copies of all the letters you have sent out and the minutes, both handwritten and typed, of all the meetings.
- Use appropriate levels of warnings. In all but the very serious circumstances employees should be given the opportunity to improve so have an escalating series of warnings and clear guidance on when levels may be skipped.
- Wherever possible, try to make sure that whoever carries out any investigation is not involved in the disciplinary decision.
- Offer the right of appeal, without indicating that it will not make a difference, and try if possible to have this carried out by someone wholly uninvolved in the disciplinary process so far.
Following these steps and listening to what your employee has to say will give you the best chance of making sure that the decision is fair and reasonable in the circumstances.
If you require any further assistance then please do not hesitate to contact Peninsula on 0844 892 2772
By Ellen Singer