This is a question I’ve been asked recently. It’s easy to fire someone, but not so easy to do it without getting into trouble, so here are some tips for sacking staff legally.
1. When you fire an employee, remember the three essential steps
First, invite the employee to a meeting with you. Make sure they realise it’s a disciplinary meeting, not a chat about the weather. Second, let them have their say. Take notes and record how long it lasts so you can prove it wasn’t rushed. Third, ask a senior manager to review your initial decision – you need an impartial opinion. If you fail to follow any of these steps, the dismissal is unfair and could go to a tribunal.
2. Fire employees consistently
Last year, you discovered that someone in your sales department had been colluding with a rival. You gave him a warning. A few months ago, you found out that another salesman was doing the same thing. You sacked her. Watch out – if you behave inconsistently, you won’t have a leg to stand on in court.
3. Take your time and don’t rush into firing anyone
Don’t ambush a member of staff with an allegation and fire them on the spot. Notice of a disciplinary hearing must be given at least 24 hours before the meeting.
4. Be wary of sexual discrimination
Dismissing or demoting a pregnant employee (or woman on maternity leave) can lead to problems. It can be considered as sexual discrimination, even if you believe you have a strong case for sacking her. Make sure you get the legal issues right.
5. – and other minority groups
Regardless of length of service, i’?s unlawful to dismiss an employee on these grounds: sex or marital status; colour; race; nationality or ethnic origins; physical or mental disability; sexual orientation; religion.
6. Record everything
Companies get into legal hot water by forgetting to record things like verbal warnings. Make employees sign a form to say that they’re aware of the action taken against them and agree that it’s fair. Don’t let anything slip by undocumented.
If you need to sack someone, follow these steps carefully. Get some advice before you rush into doing anything and you’ll avoid costly problems.