Dismissing employees: What can we learn from the very public sacking of Manchester United manager David Moyes? ?This has made me think about the manner in which many employers dismiss their staff. Although it can often seem like the best for both parties if the employment relationship can come to an end swiftly, it is important that any dismissals of employees are done so in line with correct procedures.
Although such quick and public dismissals are sadly seen as the norm in footballing circles, employers in every day sectors would struggle to dismiss an employee in this way without facing the threat of a subsequent employment tribunal action for unfair dismissal.
Employers should therefore not generally follow in the footsteps of Manchester United and keep the following things in mind when dismissing an employee. First of all, dismissing an employee should be the last resort and employers should carry out necessary investigations without unreasonable delay to establish the facts. It's always best to try to resolve any issues informally first - often a quiet word is all it takes to sort out problems.
Employers should use a fair and consistent procedure when dismissing an employee. It is important to have a policy for disciplinary and grievance in place within organisations, and employers are reminded to follow such a policy. If no policy exists, then employers should follow the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. Whilst the Code is not, in itself, legally enforceable, employment tribunals will take its provisions into account when considering relevant cases.
Employees have the right not to be unfairly dismissed. In most circumstances employees will need to qualify before they can make a complaint to an employment tribunal. To qualify to bring a claim for unfair dismissal, employees must have at least one year's continuous service for employees in employment before 6th April 2012 or two years for employees starting employment on or after 6th April 2012. Employers should remember that there is no length of service requirement in relation to 'automatically unfair grounds', such as dismissals for health and safety grounds or for enforcing rights in relation to the national minimum wage.
An employer choosing to dismiss an employee without following the correct procedure and not wanting the risk of an employment tribunal might consider offering the employee a settlement agreement.
If you have been dismissed or are considering dismissing employees, please contact one of our employment team. Former football managers welcome?