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  • Sally Brandon

How to fire an employee

Updated: Jan 18

It is never a nice thing to have to do, but sadly sometimes you have to fire an employee as they are not working out in the role they were employed for. It is also not always a quick or easy thing to do and all carry some risk. Dismissal in probation carries the least risk unless the employee has a protected characteristic. Dismissal under two years also carries less risk as the employee is not yet entitled to claim for unfair dismissal unless the employee has a protected characteristic. Employees with over 2 years service may have a right to claim for unfair dismissal so the risk is higher.

This blog deals with firing or dismissing an employee due to a breach of contract or poor performance. There are a number of other reasons for dismissing an employee which will be covered in later blogs.

Whatever the reason for firing an employee you must ensure that dismissal is for a fair reason and that it follows your company disciplinary procedures. This procedure must be written down and easily available to all employees and cover the rules, what behaviours and performance might lead to disciplinary action and the possible actions you might take.

The ACAS code of practice for disciplinary and grievance procedures states that:

  • Employers and employees should raise and deal with issues promptly and should not unreasonably delay meetings, decisions or confirmation of those decisions.

  • Employers and employees should act consistently.

  • Employers should carry out any necessary investigations, to establish the facts of the case.

  • Employers should inform employees of the basis of the problem and give them an opportunity to put their case in response before any decisions are made.

  • Employers should allow employees to be accompanied at any formal disciplinary or grievance meeting.

  • Employers should allow an employee to appeal against any formal decision made.

Step 1

You need to establish the facts of the case. Investigate the issues surrounding any potential disciplinary action and ensure you are fully aware of all of the facts and have the evidence you want to use. This should be done in a timely manner and without delay. Where possible the investigation and any subsequent disciplinary. If you need to interview the employee in question as part of the investigation, that metinging should not be the only evidence you want to use if moving forward to the next stage. If you need to suspend the employee whilst the matter is being investigated, the suspension should be for as short a time as possible and it needs to be made clear that the suspension is not the disciplinary action being taken.

Step 2

If after the investigation meeting you feel disciplinary action needs to be taken, advise the employee of the issue, the date of the meeting and the possible outcome of the meeting. This should be done face to face and then followed up in writing including any evidence you wish to use. Advise the employee they will be entitled to have a companion in the meeting if they wish (if the meeting could result in a warning, This can be someone from the company or a union representative but cannot be a family member or friend.

Step 3

Hold the meeting with someone taking notes. Talk through the issues and evidence with the employee giving them time to explain and give their thoughts on the issues presented. Once the meeting has finished adjourn and advise the employee when you hope to have made a decision on the next stage.

Step 4

Consider the facts presented and decide on the outcome. Invite the employee back to advise of the decision. If the employee already has a final written warning on their file and one of the outcomes was dismissal, advise them of this, give them time to gather their belongings and ask for any keys/ fobs company property to be returned. In most cases it is simpler to give the employee payment in lieu of notice so they can leave immediately. Follow up the decision in writing giving the employee a chance to appeal in writing to (where possible) someone else in the company. If at appeal stage the original decision is reversed you can reinstate your employee.

This blog is a general overview of the stages required when dismissing an employee unless you are dismissing at the end of probation, and does not cover everything in detail. Unfair dismissal claims can be very costly in terms of time, company reputation and money so if you are unsure it is always best to get advice.

Minerva HR Consulting is always open to supporting you if you need to start this process so drop me a line contact@minervahrconsulting or book in a call

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