There are times when dismissing an employee is exactly the right course of action to take, and the law recognises that. However, even if the reason for dismissal is absolutely valid, you need to ensure that you can demonstrate that you followed a fair and appropriate procedure, before dismissing the staff member. This is constantly changing through developments in case law and it is very difficult for small employers to keep up to date. The correct procedure also depends on the type of dismissal (e.g. redundancy, conduct, performance, capability, ill-health, etc.)
Never act in haste and make sure everything is well documented. Make sure you are clear about the reason for dismissal (e.g. don't make someone redundant if the reason for dismissal is poor performance). Make sure you have given employees formal warnings after following a disciplinary procedure before considering dismissal. In cases of gross misconduct, consider suspending the employee and investigate thoroughly before holding a disciplinary hearing - instant dismissal is normally unfair, no matter how obvious a case of gross misconduct.
Many employers only worry about following a fair procedure when an employee starts misbehaving. This can be too late. It is much better to ensure you have procedures in place before you need them, in terms of monitoring attendance, performance or conduct. This can be done quite easily without creating a lot of work for you. It can help set the right culture in your business and provide evidence of good practice if you need it subsequently when facing a claim.
For advice about what procedures you should have in place contact us.