Dismissing someone following a disciplinary hearing sounds straightforward.  Here are a few things that you need to bear in mind:

  • You need to make sure that, before the disciplinary hearing, the employee was told in writing that dismissal was a possible outcome.  Failure to do so may result in the dismissal being ‘unfair’.
  • You need to make sure that a full investigation has taken place.  If the employee raises things during the disciplinary hearing that require further investigation you should follow this up.  You will then need to send the employee details of your further investigations and invite them to a further disciplinary hearing.
  • You need to make sure that there is clear evidence, on balance, that the employee did what they are accused of.
  • Dismissal needs to be a ‘reasonable’ outcome – check your Disciplinary Procedure and make sure that the conduct comes within your list of ‘gross misconduct’.  If you are dismissing following previous warnings, check that the warnings are still current and have not expired.
  • Only take into account relevant information – don’t let your personal feelings or views affect your decision.
  • Write a detailed letter to the employee setting out why you have reached the decision you have.  This a) enables you to review the evidence and check your decision; b) enables the employee to understand everything you have taken into consideration; c) will help the appeal officer understand the reasons for your decision; and d) will help convince the employee’s adviser that the employee does not have a case against you – particularly helpful where ‘no win, no fee’ lawyers are involved.
  • In most cases, you should give the employee the opportunity to appeal.

In all cases it is sensible to take legal advice before dismissing an employee so that you understand the risks.  However, this is particularly so where the employee is disabled or has raised issues relating to a disability or some other discriminatory factor.

Many claims for unfair dismissal following a disciplinary hearing are lost because of a poor procedure.

Why take the risk when a little advice could save you from an expensive legal battle !