Firing Employees - FAQs

Firing Employees - FAQs

How NOT to fire someone, and other key questions.

By Marcia Smith

What’s the best way to fire an employee?

The best way to fire someone is in a way that can’t be claimed to be wrongful or unfair, and where you won’t leave yourself open to an employment tribunal.

It’s essential to follow your company’s published disciplinary criteria. Keep good records of your employee’s appraisals and performance reviews. Make sure you’ve explained what the problem is, and give them a reasonable opportunity to improve. Don’t make personal criticisms of their character, but focus on positive suggestions to fix the problem.

Make sure you understand the root cause of the poor performance. If the employee is experiencing bullying, or has a lack of training or poor resources, you must fix these things.

When it comes to the actual dismissal, keep the situation calm and professional. Don’t let it develop into a debate or argument.

Is it legal to fire one employee but not another for the same breach of company policy?

Strictly speaking, it’s not illegal to fire one employee and not the other over the same breach of company policy. However, the dismissed employee may feel that they’ve been unlawfully discriminated against and can take legal action against the company on those grounds. It can be difficult to prove the innocence of the employer in this situation, especially if the breach of company policy is stated as an offence that must result in dismissal.

A legal advisor should be consulted about the possible repercussions from the employees in question before taking decisive action. Further information about dismissing employees can be found on the Citizens Advice Bureau website.

When firing an employee, should I tell them the company will not fight an unemployment claim?

In the UK there is no provision for an employer to challenge a former employee’s claim for unemployment benefit.

An employee’s claim for Jobseeker's Allowance could be refused for six months if they’re considered to have made themselves intentionally unemployed. This would include resigning or being fired for misconduct. However, the government will check this information by looking at the documentation you’ve given to the employee, setting out the reasons for their termination. It’s unlikely that you will be approached directly.

If you suggest to your employee that you could influence their future claim for unemployment benefit, this could suggest that your reasons for dismissing them are dishonest. This could leave you open to a legal challenge.