There are numerous reasons for which an employee can be legitimately dismissed, but in sacking any employee, the employer should make sure that there is no case for unfair dismissal.
In general, it is unfair dismissal if an employee loses their job because they refuse to adhere to a major contractual change that has been forced upon them. Alternatively, should the conflict be down to the employee doing what is within their rights (for example taking maternity leave
with the correct procedures), dismissal can be considered unfair. Dismissing an employee for a transgression that has previously gone unpunished in the case of another employee can also trigger a claim.
Even in a round of redundancies, one ex-employee can claim unfair dismissal if he or she feels they were singled out. In other words, redundancy cannot be used as a cover for dismissal.
Ensuring a fair dismissal
The right to receive written reasons for dismissal occurs when the employee has two years’ service, although there are some cases where they have the right to it automatically even if they have less than two years service. Acas outlines that dismissals are automatically unfair if the reason for dismissal is in breach of one or more of an employee’s protected employment rights. This includes factors such as pregnancy, parental leave, working time regulations, National Minimum Wage and trade union membership grounds.
Dismissal can be fair if it is a result of violence, theft, willful damage, unexplained absence, incompetence, bad timekeeping, drunkenness, drug use, harassment, evidence that the employee faked their qualifications or licences, intimidation and other such serious offences. If possible, notice or warnings should be given but there are cases when immediate dismissal is appropriate. Usually, the employee has the right to a written statement explaining the company’s decision if they have worked at the company for two years or more.
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