What is a fair dismissal?
In the UK, under the Employment Rights Act 1996, a fair dismissal would involve an employer illustrating that the dismissal of an employee is due to one of the below 5 fair reasons of dismissal:
This would involve some form of misconduct, such as an employee who has continuous unauthorised absences or constantly late for work. It could even be due to serious misconduct, such as theft or discriminatory behaviour.
Capability or qualifications for the job
In terms of capability, this would refer to an employee’s ability to do their job, such as poor performance, or inability to carry out the tasks required in their job, due to ill-health. Dismissals related to qualifications would be connected to the lack of qualifications required for the position and job role.
In the UK, redundancies are lawfully fair if the job ceases to exist, the organisation needs to cut costs and reduce the number of staff, or the business or site is closing.
Statutory duty or restriction omitting the continuity of employment
This occurs when continuing to employ someone would mean that you are breaking the law. For instance, an employee’s right to work in the UK has expired, or an employee whose sole role is to drive has lost their licence.
Some other substantial reason (SOSR) which justifies the dismissal
SOSR can be a fair reason for dismissal, when no other potentially fair reasons apply. An example of an SOSR dismissal could be the expiry of a fixed-term contract (e.g. covering maternity leave) to allow the original employee to return. Other examples could include conflict of interest, personality clashes, or a breakdown of mutual trust and confidence.