Dismissal procedure


Note: this page is for employers, and outlines the importance of following the correct procedure when dismissing an employee.

If you are an employee and you think you have been unfairly dismissed, then you can go through the process with our easy-to-use flow chart of the important points to check when you've been dismissed. Click this link:

Dismissals flow chart

Employers - why follow a strict procedure for dismissals?

A dismissal procedure has to be strictly followed if an employer wishes to dismiss someone who works for them. However, whether a dismissal procedure applies will depend on the case.

If the person to be dismissed is not an employee, then their employer may not have to follow a dismissal procedure. So temporary workers, casual workers, and other type of workers who are not employees may be dismissed without notice.

The law on dismissal procedure

The Employment Act 2002 (referred to as ‘the Act’) was brought into effect on October 1, 2004. The Act introduced many things into employment law. One thing introduced by the Act is new dismissal procedures. These new dismissal procedures have an important bearing on some areas of employment law, including the fairness of a dismissal.

If an employee is dismissed without being subjected to proper dismissal procedures, it is likely that their dismissal will be automatically unfair. As a result of this, the employee will have a claim for unfair dismissal against their employer.

This highlights the importance for employers and human resources departments to rigorously implement and follow dismissal procedures. Failure to do so could result in them paying out large sums of compensation to settle unfair-dismissal claims.

The Act introduced these new dismissal procedures to promote alternative dispute resolution (referred to as ‘ADR’). ADR aims to resolve disputes through meetings held between the two parties out of court. ADR has been pushed in recent years due to the increased number of cases going to court.

The three-step process

If an employer wishes to dismiss an employee then in most cases he must follow the standard three-step dismissal procedure. This can be summarised as follows:

Step 1

The employer must write to the employee setting out the reasons for them considering taking action against the employee. In this initial letter, the employer does not have to state that they are considering dismissing the employee. He must invite the employee to attend a meeting to discuss the matter.  

Step 2

This step involves a meeting between the employer and employee to discuss the matter. Following the meeting, the employer is obliged to inform the employee of their decision. This does not necessarily have to be in writing. The employer must also inform the employee of his right to appeal the decision.

Step 3

This step applies if the employee chooses to appeal. An appeal meeting must be held by the employer. It is useful to note that you may be represented at any internal meetings by a work colleague or a Trade Union Representative.

If an employer does not follow the correct dismissal procedure, the dismissal of the employee will be automatically unfair. As the procedure can be dependent on many different factors, and because the ramifications of an unfair dismissal can be far-reaching, it is wise to seek specialist advice.

Do you need a lawyer to help you with an unfair dismissal claim? Contact Law works with employment specialists around the country and can recommend a solicitor to suit your needs. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

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