A very common statement we read on social media posts is that it is OK to sack someone within 2 years of them starting, and you don’t need to give them a reason!
Shows like The Apprentice, where Lord Sugar, sends another candidate packing with their raincoat after using the immortal phrase “You’re Fired!” make it sound easy. It can be, but isn’t always.
This is one reason why we recommend anyone considering terminating the employment of a colleague, seeks professionally qualified HR support. Not the well meaning, kind people of Facebook land. Unfortunately they will not be stood next to you when you get it wrong.
So can you really just sack someone without a reason?
Legally, possibly, morally no.
To claim unfair dismissal as an employee, you must have worked for two years. That doesn’t mean you should ever terminate someone without a reason though. If you don’t give them one, you leave a blank for them to insert their own reason.
- Was it because I asked about adoption leave?
- Was it because I’ve revealed I have cancer?
- Was it because I was upset that my colleagues have made fun of my sexual orientation?
We always recommend you have a reason and stick with it. If the employee doesn’t have 2 years continuous service, they still have basic rights from day 1 of employment which is not to be dismissed for an automatically unfair reason; this includes dismissal because of family-related reasons (such as pregnancy and parental leave), union representation, age, sex, religion, belief, race, sexual orientation, disability and so on.
Can I dismiss someone for gross misconduct?
Of course, if the conduct fails into the realms of proportionate response an employee can find themselves dismissed for gross misconduct, where their behaviour is suitably bad for the contract to have been ended by their actions. Examples of this include: theft, fighting, fraud, under the influence of alcohol etc.
In such circumstances we would recommend, regardless of service that the employee is suspended, an investigation takes place, they are called to explain the allegations in a disciplinary hearing, and if proven they are dismissed without notice for gross misconduct. They would get the right of appeal.
What notice is my employee entitled to?
Typically employees are entitled to statutory notice of one week if they’ve been in continuous employment for one month up to two years. After that, it’s two weeks’ notice rising to a maximum of twelve weeks for each further complete year of continuous employment. Thats why we often find that employees whose employment is terminated during the first 2 years are given 1 week’s notice and not required to work that week.
If you need any assistance with managing employees through the dismissal process, please give us a call on 01527 909436.