Editor's message: If you reach a decision to dismiss an employee, you should bear in mind that employees have the right not to be "unfairly dismissed" under the Employment Rights Act 1996.
Unfair dismissal is a legal concept. If the employee that you dismissed complains to an employment tribunal that he or she was unfairly dismissed, to justify your decision to dismiss as being fair you will have to show that the reason for the dismissal is one of the potentially fair reasons set out in the Employment Rights Act (capability, conduct, redundancy, breach of a statutory enactment, or some other substantial reason). If you can establish this, the employment tribunal will go on to consider if you acted reasonably in dismissing the employee, taking into account all the circumstances. You will need to show that you investigated the matter, followed a fair procedure and ultimately made a reasonable decision to dismiss.
If a dismissal is found to be unfair, employment tribunals generally order the employer to pay financial compensation to the employee. Where a tribunal finds that you haven't followed the Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures in a relevant case, it can increase the compensation it orders you to pay by up to 25%. Very occasionally, employment tribunals exercise their powers to order employers to re-engage or reinstate the employee.
Madeleine Graham, managing editor, employment law
The Court of Appeal has held that the employer was not required to match each category of gross misconduct to each allegation and that how the conduct was eventually categorised was a matter for the decision-maker after all the evidence had been adduced.
In City of York Council v Grosset EAT/0015/16, the EAT upheld a tribunal's decision that the dismissal of a teacher who showed an 18-rated film to a class of vulnerable 15- and 16-year-olds amounted to discrimination because of something arising from his disability under s.15 of the Equality Act 2010. The evidence available to the tribunal enabled a permissible conclusion that the misconduct arose in consequence of disability, and that dismissal was not objectively justified.
Darren Newman talks listeners through British Home Stores Ltd v Burchell, one of the most significant cases in employment law.
Updated to include the increase in compensation limits in cases of unfair dismissal, effective from 6 April 2017.
Chris Cook is a partner and Keely Rushmore is a senior associate at SA Law. They round up the latest rulings.
Updated to include information on the duties of prescribed bodies to make an annual report on disclosures made to them by workers.
The Court of Appeal has held that an employer's decision to disregard new medical evidence and dismiss an employee on long-term sickness absence amounted to discrimination arising from disability and unfair dismissal.
HR and legal information and guidance relating to unfair dismissal.