Sometimes the only option for an employer is to dismiss an employee. If you are in this position you need to tread carefully; the last thing you need is further disruption to your business due to an unfair dismissals claim.
If you have dismissed an employee and this leads to a dispute, the responsibility is on the employer to show that the dismissal is fair. It is very important for you to have the proper practices and procedures in place to ensure that you can show this.
If you dismiss an employee for any of the following reasons, the dismissal will be automatically unfair (this is not an exhaustive list):
- Because they are a member of a trade union.
- Because of their religious/political beliefs.
- Because they are involved in/have threatened a court case against you (or have given evidence in such a court case).
- Because they have made a criminal complaint against your business.
- Because they have taken parental or maternity leave.
There are of course times where you are justified in dismissing an employee. Proper reasons for dismissal include:
- The person is not capable of doing the job.
- The person is not competent at doing the job.
- The person has behaved in an inappropriate way.
You should have a dismissal procedure in writing as this will help you avoid problems. It is very important that you communicate this procedure to your employees. A useful way to do this is to have them sign it at the same time as signing their contract of employment. This procedure should include a verbal warning, a written warning and a suspension before the dismissal.
Before you dismiss somebody, you should follow your disciplinary procedure to ensure that you have a fair inquiry into the issue that you are dismissing them for. You should investigate the issue, consult with the employee in question, invite him/her to reply or give an explanation and allow them legal representation in this inquiry. Your final decision on the issue should be made after all these procedures have been followed.
If you have any questions in relation to dismissal, email our employment law solicitor Helen Coughlan on 045 431542