How do I legally sack an employee?

As a business owner, one of the most challenging parts is conducting employee dismissals. When you terminate an employee’s employment, there are strict guidelines you need to follow except for cases of gross misconduct as laid out in your employee guidelines. In the UK, you need a valid reason for dismissal. If you want to know how to sack an employee legally, this article looks at how best to do so.

Establish a fair reason

The first step is to establish if you have a fair reason for the dismissal. The law states that a valid reason for dismissal involves the employee not doing their job or putting the safety of others at risk.

Unfair reasons include;

  • Employees being part of a trade union
  • Becoming pregnant or wishing to take maternity/paternity leave
  • Taking annual leave
  • Being paid national minimum wage
  • Part-time or fixed-term working,

Follow your internal policies and processes

All employers need guidelines and rules that they expect employees to follow. These must be laid out to protect both the employer and the employee and set reasonable expectations, including instances that put their jobs at risk, so they know the type of behaviour to avoid. It will also detail your procedure for sacking employees in this instance too.

Issue a warning

Except in cases of gross misconduct, employees must have the chance to discuss what has happened and be allowed to correct their behaviour. This comes in the form of a formal warning. You must have evidence and documentation to prove they breached their contract or went against company policy with their actions. You can decide how many warnings you issue before terminating employment within your company policy.

Keep all documentation

To protect yourself and the employee and avoid being taken to a tribunal, you need to be able to prove everything. Ensuring you keep meticulous records of all instances of contract breaches and unacceptable behaviour is vital, along with any records of meetings, warnings and anything else relating to the incident(s).

Invite the employee to a disciplinary hearing

You can summon the employee to a disciplinary hearing (subject to relevant investigation) if you have reasonable cause. Inform them in writing of the potential outcome of the meeting i.e that they may be issued with a written warning or dismissed. Present the employee with the facts you’ve gathered and explain how they’ve breached their contract or otherwise given you grounds to dismiss them. They must be allowed to defend themselves and discuss what is happening fairly.

Provide the opportunity to appeal the decision

When you dismiss an employee, they must always be given a chance to appeal the decision if this is the outcome. This means allowing them the chance to defend themselves and counterbalance the reason you have sacked them and argue their case.

When dismissing an employee, you need to be meticulous before, during and after the process to ensure that all laws have been followed and the termination was just. For help and support knowing your rights as an employer, Harwood HR Solutions can work with you to provide a range of HR services. Contact us today for more information.


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