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Website URL : http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx/www.hse.gov.uk/media/word/b/s/index.aspx?articleid=1797

Dismissing employees

Key points:

  • Dismissing employees should be the last resort and employers should carry out necessary investigations without unreasonable delay to establish the facts.
  • Employers should use a fair and consistent procedure when dismissing employee.
  • It's always best to try to resolve any issues informally first - often a quiet word is all it takes to sort out problems.
  • Employees have the right not to be unfairly dismissed.
  • Follow the Acas Code of Practice 1 - Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures and Discipline and grievances at work: The Acas guide.
  • Set out in writing your rules and procedures for handling disciplinary procedures.
  • Make sure employees and managers understand the rules and procedures for disciplinary issues.

A dismissal occurs when an employer terminates the employee's contract. Just as formal disciplinary action should only be necessary if informal methods have failed to resolve the problem, so dismissal should be the last resort in terms of sanctions. The principles for handling disciplinary situations, up to and including dismissals are set out in Discipline and grievances at work: The Acas guide.

Whilst the Code is not, in itself, legally enforceable, employment tribunals will take its provisions into account when considering relevant cases.

Employees have the right not to be unfairly dismissed. In most circumstances employees will need to qualify before they can make a complaint to an employment tribunal:

  • at least one year's continuous service for employees in employment before 6th April 2012
  • two years for employees starting employment on or after 6th April 2012.

However, there is no length of service requirement in relation to 'automatically unfair grounds'.

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