11th February 2016

Top Tips for avoiding an Unfair Dismissal

It is important for employers to follow a fair process if dismissing an employee because employees can bring claims for certain types of unfair dismissal, as well as other claims such as discrimination, regardless of their length of service. Set out below are some top tips for employers when they are faced with a potential dismissal situation.

TIP 1  Why?

The crucial question to answer before any process is started is why? What is your reason for dismissal? Answering this question correctly will then trigger the correct procedure. There are only five fair reasons for dismissal and these are:

  • Conduct of employee
  • Capability of employee, either performance or ill health
  • Redundancy
  • Statutory restriction which prevents the employee from doing their job
  • Some other substantial reason (SOSR)

TIP 2 Procedure

Ensure you are using not only the correct procedure, but a fair and reasonable procedure. This means being aware of the procedures that may apply to the specific circumstances. For example, you may need to follow the ACAS code or your internal procedures. Procedure and reasoning in any dismissal are important to get right – if either is lacking the dismissal is unlikely to be fair.

TIP 3  Documentation is key

This tip applies not only to the drafting of appropriate letters or minutes throughout the procedure, but also your employment documentation. There is nothing worse than assuming your contract or policies will help you, only to discover they are a hindrance.

TIP 4  Take a bird’s eye view.

Try and take a step back and view the circumstances from eyes of someone outside your organisation – does it appear fair and reasonable? The question of reasonableness is raised in every unfair dismissal case. Broadly, the question is did the employer act reasonably in treating its reasons as sufficient to justify dismissal?

Sometimes it is best to seek expert advice on a matter and we are here to help. If you have any queries, please call Linda Wilson on 01730 268211 or email her at

N.B. Please note that the above information is a guide only and does not constitute legal advice. We recommend seeking specialist legal advice on your own particular circumstances.