Common mistakes made by employers when dismissing staff
13th July 2012
Dismissing staff can be a difficult and lengthy process for employers. Further, if the correct procedure is not followed an employer faces the risk of having to defend a costly employment tribunal claim.
In our experience, employers will often make one of several common mistakes when dismissing staff. These include:
1) Failing to make clear the allegations against the employee. It is important that from the outset the employer has clearly set out the conduct they are alleging the employee has displayed, as well as their concerns associated with the conduct. Just as important is the need to adhere to this argument throughout the dismissal process to ensure consistency and avoid any argument suggesting the reason for dismissal is a false pretext for discrimination.
2) Giving the wrong reason for dismissal. The line between dismissal based on conduct and dismissal based on capability become blurred. However it is important to distinguish between the two and state the correct reason. Under no circumstances should an employer state capability as the reason for dismissal when the real reason is conduct simply for the purpose of avoiding confrontation, or for any other reason.
3) Failing to investigate the facts surrounding the dismissal. It is imperative that an employer fully investigate the circumstances surrounding a dismissal and give equal attention to evidence for and against the employee’s case, ensuring the views of the employee are sought and given appropriate weight.
4) Not examining available documentation relating to the employee. It is essential that employers review any documentation that may be available that relates to the employee e.g. performance reviews, appraisals, disciplinary notices and contracts. These may offer support for or against the employee’s position and as such should not be overlooked.
5) Ignoring a medical report. If an employee provides an employer with a medical report, it is important the employer acts upon any recommendations it makes and do not ignore them.
6) Not offering an appeal or conducting a bias appeal process. It is recommended that employers do not focus on the technicalities of the stated grounds for appeal. Employers should allow the employee to present their case as they would have liked to have done so in the first instance.
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Chartered Legal Executive in Employment & Litigation Teams
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