Summary dismissal

09 July 2019

In some instances when you’re running a business, an incident may develop where you want to remove an employee immediately.

On a legal front, where does your organisation stand? And what are the rights of your workforce?

Our guide explains everything you need to know. But, as this can be a contentious issue, you may need immediate help with our employment law services.

What is a summary dismissal?

It’s where you dismiss an employee with immediate effect—there’s no notice or pay in lieu of notice (PILON).

In most cases, when dismissing an employee you’ll have to provide them with a period of notice, either statutory or contractual.

However, there are circumstances when you can dismiss someone instantly—this is summary dismissal.

The difference between dismissal and summary dismissal is you don’t have to pay the employee notice pay if they proceed with the latter.

However, a summary dismissal won’t always be the appropriate response to workplace misconduct.

Summary dismissal examples

There are a number of grounds for summary dismissal. However, these typically centre around an act of gross misconduct. Examples include:

These acts will destroy the implied duty of mutual trust and confidence essential to an employment relationship.

Summary dismissal and employment law

Despite the severity of these acts, when it comes to issuing a summary dismissal, UK law still requires you to follow a fair procedure. This is essential to avoid any claims of unfair dismissal.

This means it’ll not be as simple as dismissing the employee on the spot and telling them not to come back to work.

You’ll still require an investigation into the alleged incident, in line with the company’s disciplinary policy. This’ll involve collecting witness statements and any other relevant evidence.

It may be necessary to suspend the employee for this period if you believe their presence could legitimately jeopardise the investigation process.

After completing the investigation, the next step is to invite the employee to a disciplinary meeting. During that they should have the opportunity to explain their actions and respond to allegations.

Only once this is complete can the employer make a decision on whether to dismiss the employee without notice.

If a summary dismissal is the appropriate sanction then communicate this to the employee in writing, along with confirmation they may appeal against the summary dismissal decision if they feel they didn’t warrant it (or if they have new evidence to present).

Summary dismissal case law

A summary dismissal may be fair even where no single act of gross misconduct takes place.

In the recent case of Mbubaegbu v Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, the Employment Appeal Tribunal went on to confirm multiple acts of misconduct over a period of time may be enough to justify summary dismissal.

That’s if it undermines the trust and confidence of the employment relationship.

Need our help?

If you need assistance with any employee-related matter, get in touch for immediate help: 0800 028 2420.

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