What does dismissal for "some other substantial reason" mean?

If an employee claims unfair dismissal, the employer must show that it had a potentially fair reason for dismissing them and that it acted reasonably in all the circumstances in dismissing the employee for that reason. Under s.98 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, the potentially fair reasons for dismissal are capability; conduct; redundancy; contravention of a statutory duty or restriction; or, if none of these apply, "some other substantial reason of a kind such as to justify the dismissal of an employee holding a position which the employee held".

Examples of dismissals that could be held to be for "some other substantial reason" include:

  • the non-renewal of the fixed-term contract of an employee recruited as maternity leave cover;
  • the dismissal and re-engagement of an employee to impose new contractual terms and conditions that the employee has refused to agree;
  • a dismissal because of a personality clash between employees that makes it impossible for them to work together; and
  • the dismissal of an employee where there are concerns relating to the safeguarding of children or vulnerable adults, but where the employer does not have grounds for a misconduct dismissal.

Even where a dismissal is potentially fair for "some other substantial reason" the employer must ensure that it follows a fair procedure and acts reasonably in dismissing the employee for that reason taking into account all the circumstances.