A last resort, dismissal is an inevitable part of business but should not be taken lightly.
When handling dismissal, the employer should delicately approach the reasoning behind the firing of the employee. Avoid commenting on anything except the dismissal and do so in a professional manner regardless of the relationship with the person. Avoid using any language or drawing upon any situation which could be considered as discrimination, creating a case for wrongful dismissal. Also consider the judgement of the remaining employees as this could tarnish a good employers’ reputation.
Management should efficiently train all staff members involved in disciplinary matters as, “The employer, and HR professionals, have a responsibility to ensure that all disputes are handled in a fair and consistent manner across the organization,” says CIPD.
The main reasons for fair dismissal include:
- Issues with capability or qualifications
- Employee misconduct
- Illegality or contravention of a statutory duty
To avoid any arguments for unfair dismissal, the situation should be handled delicately with every detail planned in advance. From the consultation room to the adopted vocabulary, you will need to be equipped for any issues during the dismissal meeting.
HR Law say that, “Because of the risk of the conversation being disclosable, employers should take care of the content of the discussion”. Employers should be sure that they have a fair reason for wanting to terminate the employment in the first place, and be sure to explain to the individual that the view is to come to an amicable agreement to avoid the unpleasantness of a formal process.
This ‘without prejudice’ meeting is off record, allowing employees to leave under a compromised agreement. These meetings can help resolve matters, so that a long dismissal procedure can be avoided, benefitting both parties. The ‘without prejudice’ rule should be implemented throughout this process to ensure that the conversation can’t be branded as discriminative. If this process is unavailable or ill-advised by the employer, then a more official dismissal meeting should be scheduled.
Be open and honest
Make sure that you have all the facts, communicate the issues in a professional and factual manner and take control of the meeting. Do not mislead the employee and be honest about the situation so that they understand fully why they are being dismissed.
The employee should feel supported throughout the process, so supportive language and gestures should be used. According to Acas, “It can be difficult to control your emotions if the employee becomes confrontational or makes an accusation about you” If the situation begins to get personal, remember to remain objective and non-judgemental at all times – this can often be an emotional process.
Preparation and pre-planning is very important when delicately handling dismissal. By anticipating how individual employees will handle being fired or made redundant, you will be ready to deal with the situation as it arises. By studying employee records prior to the dismissal process, the employee response can be predicted. The more emotionally responsive employees will need emotive support and guidance. Headstrong employees may need more persuasion; have security notified prior to the meeting in case there is an issue.
When conducting redundancy meetings, go in knowing which package to offer. Be aware of any areas that are up for discussion and if there is leeway in negotiations, allow employees to discuss further options. Make sure that they are satisfied with the outcome without compromising company policies. CIPD says that, “As well as falling within one of the five potentially fair reasons for dismissal, an employer must also have acted fairly and reasonably in taking that reason as sufficient for dismissing the employee”.
The key factor when considering delicate dismissal, is the preparation behind the meeting. It is important that the circumstance is handled delicately, so that the employee feels supported through the whole process. Understanding that the situation has been treated fairly and empathetically. This will help the avoidance of further action. If the employee feels as though the firing is unjustified they may end up reporting it as an unfair dismissal.