Dismissing an Employee – Advice for Employers banner

We value...problem solving

Dismissing an Employee – Advice for Employers

If you need to dismiss an employee, it is important to follow the correct procedure and establish that you have the right legal grounds for the dismissal, or your employee could bring a legal claim against you for unfair, wrongful or constructive dismissal.

By taking legal advice from an expert employment solicitor, you can ensure that your dismissal process is fair and lawful and that you have a valid reason for the dismissal. Taking the time to follow the right legal process for dismissal means that you can avoid a potentially costly and disruptive legal case.

At Stephen Rimmer Solicitors, our experienced employment lawyers can work with you to ensure that the correct process is followed and that there are no grounds for your employee to make a complaint. We can guide you through the necessary steps and ensure that you have a lawful basis for terminating the employment.

We know that it is likely to be important to you to deal with the matter without delay, and we will work proactively to ensure that the dismissal is completed as quickly as possible.

How we can help with dismissing an employee

A dismissal can potentially be lengthy and complex, with notice periods and warnings that should be given and the need to establish valid grounds for terminating employment. There is substantial scope for mistakes to be made, giving an employee the chance to claim unfair dismissal, even where the initial grounds were fair.

If you wish to dismiss an employee, we can go through the correct process with you, including the following:

  • Advice on grounds for dismissing an employee
  • Advice on performance management for underperforming employees
  • Avoiding employment claims over a dismissal
  • Settlement agreements
  • Representation for employment claims for unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal and constructive dismissal
  • Redundancy advice for employers

Consult our employee dismissals solicitors in Eastbourne and Hastings

For clear, expert advice on dismissing an employee, please contact a member of our employment law team for a no obligation discussion:

For more information in respect of our services, see employment law for employers.

Employee dismissals FAQs

There are five grounds on which an employee can be fairly dismissed, as follows:

  • Conduct, where an employee’s behaviour has not been acceptable or appropriate
  • Capability, where the employee is not deemed able to carry out the job
  • Redundancy, where the position is no longer required
  • A legal reason, where the employee cannot do their job legally, for example, a delivery driver who has lost their driving licence
  • Some other substantial reason, where there is another fair reason to dismiss an employee, for example, a client will not work with the employee

Once an employer has established that they have a valid reason for the dismissal, they need to follow a full and fair procedure. This could be a disciplinary and grievance procedure or a redundancy procedure.

In both cases, there are several stages that must be gone through. The process should, as a minimum, follow the Acas guidelines. If, as an employer, you have an employee handbook, you must follow the steps set out in there.

If a dismissal is based on a valid reason, but as an employer, you fail to follow a proper process, then your employee may be able to claim unfair dismissal.

There are also a number of automatically unfair reasons for dismissal, including dismissals based on:

  • Requesting flexible working
  • Being pregnant or on maternity leave
  • Asking for family leave
  • Being a trade union member or representative
  • Requesting something to which an employee is legally entitled
  • Whistleblowing
  • Taking action over a health and safety concern

Where an employee feels that they have no choice but to resign because of unfair treatment, they may potentially be able to claim constructive dismissal.

Unfair dismissal is when an employee’s employment is ended without a fair reason or where there was a fair reason, but the employer did not follow the correct process.

Where the reason given for the dismissal was not true or was automatically unfair or where the employer has been unreasonable in dealing with the dismissal process, then an employee may be able to claim unfair dismissal.

Wrongful dismissal occurs when an employer breaches the employee’s contract, for example, failure to give the correct amount of notice as stipulated in the contract. The employee will be entitled to claim damages for any losses they have sustained. In some cases, employees may be able to recover more under a wrongful dismissal claim than under an unfair dismissal claim, as damages for breach of contract could exceed the compensation for loss of earnings that might be payable for unfair dismissal.

Where an employee is made to feel that they have no alternative but to resign because of a serious breach of contract on the part of the employer, they can claim constructive dismissal.

The breach needs to be fundamental and either a breach of the terms of the contract or a breach of the trust and confidence between employer and employee.

Examples include reducing an employee’s salary, manifestly unreasonable disciplinary proceedings, harassment or bullying, ongoing stress that has not been addressed or being required to work in the face of health and safety breaches.

It is crucial to follow the proper process from the start. This involves establishing a valid reason and going through a procedure similar to that contained in the Acas Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures.

The employee should be informed of the issue in writing, and a meeting held, at which the employee should be allowed to bring a fellow worker or trade union representative.

Following the meeting, the employer will need to consider what the appropriate action is. It is crucial to ensure that the correct warnings are given. Moving to dismiss an employee without this could give them grounds to claim unfair dismissal.

A settlement agreement offers a way of ending a period of employment quickly and cleanly. The employer will generally pay a lump sum to the employee, and in return, the employee will waive most of their rights to bring a legal claim against the employee.

You can also include a payment in lieu of notice, so the employee could leave without having to work out their notice period.

You will need to decide whether this is worth paying for and, if so, how much you are prepared to offer the employee. Our employment team will be able to advise you as to whether a settlement agreement is needed and if so, draft this on your behalf.

Our employee dismissals advice pricing

We know how important it is for businesses to be able to access excellent quality legal advice at a competitive price. We always aim to ensure we provide this while maintaining the high standards of legal advice and client service for which we are known.

We are able to offer fixed fees for some work, meaning that you will know in advance how much the costs will be. If fixed fees are not available, we will let you know what the hourly rates are of the individuals who will be working on your case and an estimate of the likely costs at the outset.

Speak to our employee dismissals solicitors in Eastbourne and Hastings

From our offices in Eastbourne and Hastings, our team advises employers all across East Sussex, including in Bexhill-on-Sea, Hailsham, Polegate, Battle, Pevensey and St Leonards-on-Sea.

To find out how we can help resolve your commercial property dispute, please contact our expert team now:


How can we help you?

Call us today on 01323 644222 to get the specialist help you need.