Do I need to tell an employee why they are being sacked?

Written by Kevin Murphy
4 February, 2022

Do I need to tell an employee why they are being sacked?

The simple answer is, yes, you do need to tell an employee why they are being sacked. 

 

Regardless of whether you have a long service employee or not, explaining why someone is being dismissed helps to make the process fair but also provides the reason for the dismissal to the employee. By explaining the reason for the dismissal you could save your business from having to undertake a lengthy and potentially costly Tribunal process. 

 

Many employers worry about handling and wording dismissals. It can be tough to lay out exactly why someone is being sacked, whether they failed to meet expectations or there are issues with conduct for example.

 

Our advice is this: be as clear and concise as possible. A dismissal letter is a key document that will be relied upon in potential future proceedings. This means that to protect your business, it should be worded as accurately and clearly as possible.

When can it go wrong?

A prime example of how things can turn sour if a business is not clear on why an employee is being sacked comes from a dismissal letter we drafted, but was amended by the client so as not to appear too harsh or critical.

In the dismissal letter, we were clear on why the employee was dismissed – we detailed exactly what they had done wrong:

  1. They took excessive breaks
  2. They took stock without permission
  3. They continuously misused company equipment, causing damage.

 

We advised that the business use this wording as it clearly states why the employee was being dismissed.  However, the client amended the letter to state that the employee was “not a good fit for the business”.

 

Unfortunately, it rarely pays to be so kind with dismissal letters. As soon as the dismissal letter was sent to the employee, they took the words “not a good fit for the business” to be a comment about their race. They lodged a claim in the Employment Tribunal, leading to a lengthy 18-month wait before the hearing. 

 

We successfully defended the business at Tribunal, with the Judge stating that a properly worded dismissal letter would have prevented this from happening in the first place. Thankfully, the business had legal expenses insurance with us, and incurred no extra cost to themselves – just a lot of headaches!

pregnant lady

Employment Law Solutions can help

If you have a question you would like answered, our lawyers are here to help. Email us your question and we’ll love to get back to you. 

The importance of a well drafted, clear and concise dismissal letter cannot be understated.

Employment Law Solutions offer Employment Law advice and can assist with your dismissals. By offering a monthly retainer service you are able to benefit from legal advice covering all aspects of employment and your business and employment contract reviews 24/7, 365 days, all while spreading the cost over 12 monthly payments.

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