Dismissing staff

5. Dismissals for conduct or performance reasons

You can dismiss an employee if:

  • they’re incapable of doing their job to the required standard
  • they’re capable, but unwilling to do their job properly
  • they’ve committed some form of misconduct

If you want to dismiss someone, there’s no specific process you must go through by law - as long as you do it fairly.

If a capability issue is linked to someone’s health, you should try as many ways as possible to help them do their job before dismissing them.

Disciplinary procedures

You should include examples of what you consider to be misconduct in your disciplinary rules.

Different disciplinary procedures are appropriate for different circumstances.

Employees have the right to be accompanied to all disciplinary meetings and to appeal to a manager. Keep notes of all meetings and give copies to the employee.

Misconduct

Misconduct can include things like persistent lateness or unauthorised absence from work.

To make sure the dismissal is fair when misconduct isn’t ‘serious’ or ‘gross’:

  1. Arrange a meeting with the employee, telling them the reason for it. At the meeting, give them a chance to explain and issue a first written warning if you’re not satisfied with their reasons. In the warning, tell them how you expect them to improve and over what period - warn them that if they don’t improve enough, you’ll give them a final written warning.

  2. Hold a second meeting if their performance or behaviour hasn’t improved enough by the deadline - give them a chance to explain and issue a final written warning if you’re not satisfied with their reasons. Revise the action plan with timescales for improvement and warn them that you’ll consider dismissal if there’s no improvement.

  3. Hold a third meeting if their performance or behaviour is still not up to standard by these new deadlines. Warn them that dismissal is now possible. After the meeting - or appeal if there is one - decide whether to give the employee a further chance to improve, or dismiss them. You must tell the employee of your final decision, whatever it is.

Serious misconduct

You can issue a single ‘first and final’ written warning if the misconduct or underperformance is serious enough. Explain that not improving could lead to dismissal. ‘Serious enough’ includes if it’s likely to or has caused serious harm to the organisation itself.

Gross misconduct

Gross misconduct can include things like theft, physical violence, gross negligence or serious insubordination.

With gross misconduct, you can dismiss the employee immediately as long as you follow a fair procedure. You should investigate the incident and give the employee a chance to respond before deciding to dismiss them.

One-off incidents

An informal discussion may be enough to resolve the issue if the misconduct or underperformance was a one-off and the employee has a good disciplinary record.