Legal Article - Employment Law

Reasons for Dismissal of an Employee

There exists a catch all-net in the reasons that may justify dismissal, that is “some other substantial reason of a kind such as to justify the dismissal of an employee holding the position which the employee held”.

There is no list of the situations that can fall under this heading. Examples have included:

• Reorganisation of a business
• Personality conflicts
• Third party pressure
• The refusal to sign a necessary restrictive covenant
• Genuine, if mistaken belief.

In each case, it is a question of fact for the tribunal to decide. A reason is likely to be acceptable so long as it is not “a whimsical or capricious reason, which no person of ordinary sense would entertain”.

Reorganisations of a Business

Reorganisations often lead to redundancies in that the need for employees decreases e.g. when one person absorbs the work of another in addition to his own. But there may be circumstances where redundancy does not arise out of a reorganisation as, for example, where it involves simply a change of hours or a change of working conditions.

In such circumstances, it is necessary to show that the change was made for sound business reasons and, for it to be fair, that it was done after consultation and a reasonable attempt to find an alternative solution acceptable to the employee. It may nevertheless be unfair for a particular employee if their circumstances (e.g. domestic; financial loss) are significantly affected by the change.

Employee Personality Conflicts

Personality conflicts may come under the heading of either” conduct” or “some other substantial reason”.

These problems are notoriously difficult to deal with but may have to be. It is therefore a good idea to precede something like as follows:

• Attempt to mediate
• consider transfer, but beware of sex, race or disability
• Discrimination
• investigate causes (medical?)
• warn about consequences
• establish and indicate who, in the absence of any other solution, is to be dismissed as most at fault or, if equally to blame both to be dismissed
• keep records of conversations, attempts to mediate, disciplinary interviews etc.

Third Party Pressure

Pressure from an important customer or, from your franchise manufacturer to dismiss an employee can amount to a substantial reason. However, the reason for the third party’s pressure must be shown and it is subject to the test of reasonableness.

Published: 03 Jun 2011

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