How to avoid unfair dismissal claims
An employee who believes that they have been dismissed unfairly can choose to take legal action and make an unfair dismissal claim against their employer.
If a situation has arisen which means that you need to dismiss an employee, it is important to do so in a way that is completely fair. Through taking the time to follow the correct procedures, you can reduce your risk of becoming embroiled in a time-consuming and costly unfair dismissal claim.
Underperforming staff members
Employers can choose to let an employee go if they are not performing their job to an adequate standard. During the dismissal procedure, it is important to consider a number of factors to make sure that the process remains fair, including:
1) Have you informed an employee of their performance issues? It is also important to notify them of the improvements you expect to see.
2) Have you given the employee an appropriate amount of time to remedy the current situation?
3) Are you going to provide suitable training and support to help improve their performance?
4) Has the employee been informed of what will take place should they fail to improve?
Through taking this preliminary action and providing the employee with relevant letters throughout, you can reduce your risk of any claims being brought against your business.
Dismissing an employee for misconduct can still leave you at risk of an unfair dismissal claim if you fail to follow a proper and fair course of action. During conduct dismissals, you should:
1) Investigate the alleged misconduct by interviewing and taking statements. If necessary, suspend the person on full pay, making clear that this move is not a disciplinary sanction.
2) Set up a disciplinary meeting, sending a letter to the employee to give them plenty of notice. You should also outline the disciplinary procedure, the reasons, possible sanctions, evidence and his right to be accompanied by a work colleague or trade union advisor.
3) The meeting must be chaired by an impartial officer. Notes must also be taken and both sides of the story must be heard, and the employee should have an opportunity to respond to the allegation.
4) Reconvene the meeting, make a decision and take appropriate action, whether that is an oral warning, first written or final written warning or dismissal.
5) Type up all notes and keep any original copies. Write to the employee regarding the disciplinary action and give them a copy of any meeting notes. You must make sure that they understand their right to appeal, and those dealing with the hearing must have had no involvement with the case.
Of course, investing in specialist legal guidance throughout any dismissal procedure can make sure that the entire process remains completely fair. Solicitors can draft up any letters and documents, while ensuring that all precautionary measures have been successfully completed, helping to protect your business, its reputation and its assets from unfair dismissal claims.