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5 Fair Reasons For Dismissal – Why Employers Need To Get It Right

Last updated Jun 7 2024 | Employment Law

by Rebecca McLean

by Rebecca McLean

In this article

What are the 5 fair reasons for dismissal?

Under the Employment Rights Act 1996, five potentially fair reasons that can justify dismissing an employee:

Unacceptable reasons for dismissal

The 5 fair reasons for dismissal are a guideline to help employers conduct dismissals in a legal manner. If your reasons for dismissal don’t fall within any of those categories, it could mean you’re acting unfairly.

Unfair dismissal claims only apply to employees who have 2 years of service at the company. If an employee has less than 2 years of service with the employer, their claim may only be considered if the reason falls under automatically unfair dismissal, or the procedure falls under wrongful dismissal.

Here are some automatically unfair dismissal reasons:

  • Discrimination towards protected characteristics like age, gender, religion or disability.
  • Pregnancy or maternity leave.
  • Asserting a statutory right, like requesting National Minimum Wage.
  • Whistleblowing.
  • Trade union membership.
  • Flexible working requests.
  • Taking part in industrial action.
  • Jury service.

If you unfairly dismiss an employee, they could seek legal advice and you could end up at the Employment Tribunal.

What is the difference between unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal?

Unfair dismissal is when the reason was not within the 5 fair reasons for dismissal, for example, discrimination.

Wrongful dismissal occurs when an employer does not follow proper procedures. This can include not providing notice, even if the termination is justified.

What is the correct procedure to dismiss someone?

Even if the dismissal falls under one of the 5 fair reasons for dismissal, employers still need to follow the proper procedure. This helps protect your company from unfair and wrongful dismissal claims and provides evidence of reasonable practices.

The key procedural steps include:

  1. Conducting a full investigation into the circumstances.
  2. Notifying the employee of concerns, allegations, evidence, and potential consequences in writing.
  3. Allowing the employee to respond and provide their defence.
  4. Holding a fair disciplinary hearing. In some circumstances, employees have a legal right to request someone else join them.
  5. Deciding the outcome and letting the employee know in writing, including reasons.
  6. Providing the employee with the option to appeal.

The procedure can differ depending on the circumstances. If you’re making someone redundant, there is a different set of guidelines to follow. If the employee raises a grievance during the disciplinary process, you may choose to pause or alter the steps to deal with the grievance.

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Like it, share it.

If you found the contents of this blog useful, please feel free to share it on social media. Sharing our article helps others in need find the same information.