by Kate Russell


Employers have the right to manage their staff. This includes hiring and firing – within reason! It’s always much easier to appoint someone than to remove them, so make sure that you don’t hire a problem (see Recruitment). If you do decide that you have to dismiss, make sure you follow your procedures rigorously (see Discipline and Grievance) and ensure that you only dismiss for a fair reason.

The law specifies a number of fair reasons for dismissal. If an employer dismisses for an unfair reason or in a way which is procedurally unfair, an employee may claim unfair dismissal. It’s worth noting that unfair dismissal forms the single largest group of claims to tribunal. Following the removal of tribunal fees in 2017 claims to tribunal have increased hugely.

The purpose of the unfair dismissal provisions is to protect employees against the hardship resulting from being dismissed unfairly. The ACAS Code of Practice 1 helps employers to set up fair procedures for dealing with the types of problem which may lead to dismissal. It is based on reasonableness, fairness, consistency and good management practice.

Dismissal must be for a fair reason, be procedurally fair and a proportionate response to the offence, taking into account the circumstances. An employer must act in a transparent way, issuing warnings about an employee’s behaviour where appropriate and giving time to improve. A full investigation should be carried out and any dismissal must be justified.

This topic helps you to understand in what circumstances a dismissal may be considered fair or unfair and what kind of procedures you should adopt to comply with legal requirements.