22nd February 2018

Five Fair Reasons

Article by Linda Wilson | Employment

When an employer is considering ending an employee’s employment, it is vital that regardless of their length of service the employer considers their reasons for dismissing that employee.  Although most employment protection with regards to unfair dismissal requires two years of service, employees, and workers, have other protection under the law from day one.

Under employment legislation there are five fair reasons for dismissing an employee and these are as follows:

  • Conduct
  • Capability
  • Redundancy
  • Breach of statutory obligation
  • Some other substantial reason

The first three bullet points may be familiar.   Breach of a statutory obligation, for example, could be an HGV driver no longer having a driving licence.   The final reason, ‘some other substantial reason’, is sometimes mistakenly seen as a general ‘catch all’ category but is reserved for only a few types of circumstances.  For example, it may be that the reason for dismissal is not quite a redundancy but a business restructure of some kind.

It is good practice that before any decision is made to dismiss an employee, the employer investigates the reasons for dismissal and with most of the above reasons, investigation and/or consultation is required before any decision to dismiss is taken.

Sometimes, especially with smaller businesses, decisions can be taken in haste or driven by emotion.  Business owners and managers feel they are acting in the best interests of the business but can sometimes overlook employment legislation and HR processes where procedure is paramount.

Where possible, it is wise for an employer to pause, take advice and then decide on their next steps to ensure they do not place themselves or the business at risk. They can also then ensure they treat their staff fairly and within the law.

If you need any employment law or HR advice, please do contact Linda Wilson at or on 01730 268211.