The Employment Rights Act 1996 (the ‘ERA’) limits the grounds on which you can lawfully dismiss an employee. The ERA provides four reasonably clear reasons for a fair dismissal: capability or qualifications; misconduct; redundancy; statutory restriction.
But reasons for dismissal can be diverse and unexpected. That’s why the ERA also says you can dismiss for ‘some other substantial reason’. This gives scope to dismiss an employee for a reason that does not neatly fit with the other four reasons. However, the term has been interpreted narrowly by employment tribunals and courts, and only a few scenarios have been confirmed as lawfully falling within this category.
If you face a scenario that does not neatly fit with the other four reasons provided, it may well be wise to seek a legal view on your particular situation. You should certainly ensure that you gather sufficient evidence, that the procedure is as fair as possible, and that if there is a disciplinary element to the dismissal, you also follow your disciplinary procedure.
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