Can you be sacked without warning?

09 July 2019

Once in a while, you might be faced with the decision to end an employee’s employment contract.

Employees being sacked without warning, notice or reason can arise whilst managing your business. But when you decide on dismissing them, you must comply with employment rights and laws.

Otherwise, you can be taken to an employment tribunal. Which can result in your dismissal decisions being overturned or facing financial penalties.

Learn about the rules for dismissing employees without reason, warning, or notice – and how to fairly end employment contracts.

Can you dismiss an employee without warning?

The simple answer is yes – employees can be sacked without warning under UK law. But only if they commit certain acts or behaviours, like gross misconduct.

However, you must follow the rules for dismissal throughout the entire termination process. That way, you can show compliance for policies, rights, and regulations.

Can you be sacked without written warning in the UK?

You can dismiss an employee without a written warning. But these are normally related to instant dismissal like gross misconduct and illegal activity.

However, providing a written warning can be beneficial if your dismissal is challenged in a court. A written warning can stand as physical evidence of the process you followed. 

In general terms, emplyoers give out one informal warning and two written warnings before actioning dismissal.

Can you dismiss an employee without reason?

Employers can dismiss an employee without reason in certain cases. Like, those with less than two years’ service

This type of employment termination is known as, termination without cause. But here, employees are still entitled to their rights and notice of termination.

If you fail to provide a fair reason, it could be classed as unfair dismissal. Employees could accuse you of discrimination and breaching contract terms. And this can cause them to leave your workplace or be dismissed unfairly.

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Can you dismiss an employee without notice?

Yes, employees can be dismissed from work without notice – but only in certain circumstances. You usually need to provide employees with a notice period.

You can end someone’s employment without a notice period by offering pay in lieu of notice (PILON). This is where you pay someone what they would earn over the notice period, without requiring them to actually keep working.

Otherwise, instant dismissal without notice can be issued. This is called a summary dismissal and is issued for gross misconduct and other serious cases.

Gross misconduct can include:

  • Illegal activity.
  • Physical assault.
  • Use of illegal substances or intoxication at work.
  • Inappropriate behaviour towards other employees.
  • Causing health & safety risks towards other employees.

You need to follow a fair disciplinary investigation process for cases of gross misconduct, and dismissal without notice.

How to follow a fair dismissal procedure

You might face tough decisions which lead to a termination of employment - without notice, warning, or reason.

Whatever your reason is, you need to follow a fair dismissal procedure. The Employment Rights Act (1996) outlines fair reasons for employees’ jobs to be terminated without notice.

And if you don’t present fair reasons and follow the reasonable process, you risk facing an employment tribunal and costly legal fees.

Get expert advice for when you can sack employees with warning

There are many paths to sacking employees without warning or notice of dismissal. But you must follow a fair process throughout.

Failing this could face costly compensation payments and tribunal hearings – all of which can affect your business’ success and productivity.

Peninsula provides expert advice on employee dismissals and contract support. We can take you through the entire process, and help you apply the best method for your situation.

It’s important to treat your staff fairly, whilst complying with employment laws. Contact us through our 24-hour HR advice line – for a time that suits you.

Get in touch for immediate assistance. Call 0800 028 2420 today.

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