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What is a fair reason for dismissal?

As an employer, you will often be faced with difficult situations and decisions involving your staff, which can ultimately lead to dismissal. It is important that you know the law surrounding dismissals and you know which reasons would be deemed as fair or unfair. Dismissing an employee inappropriately or unfairly may end up in an Employment Tribunal and costing your business.


Employee Conduct

If an employee has broken terms of their employment, usually relating to their behaviour this can be deemed a fair reason for dismissal if managed effectively within the appropriated policy/procedure.

– A continuous pattern of unexplained absences (Continually missing work with no reasonable explanation or sick line)

– Behaviour in the work place (Inappropriate employee conduct, misconduct in the workplace)

– If you have proof that the employee has been involved with theft within the workplace or has been dishonest (gross misconduct)

– If you have proof that your employee has been involved with drug or alcohol abuse. You can dismiss the employee, but at the same time as a responsible employer you must refer them to good recovery homes like the inpatient drug rehab centre. (If the employee has turned up to work drunk/hung-over/under the influence)

Job Capability

Another fair dismissal reason is the employee’s job capability. If your employee cannot do their job properly or perform to the required standard, this is also a fair reason for dismissal if managed effectively within the appropriated policy/procedure.

– If there are disputes amongst the employee and their colleagues which cannot be resolved and is preventing them from fulfilling their job role

– If there is a long term illness which prevents the employee from doing their job role

– If there has been technological changes within the work place that your employee can’t keep up with

If there is a situation involving a long term illness, you must first consider all of the alternatives before you dismiss your employee. Also, if the reason for dismissal involves changes in the workplace, you must first make sure the employee is given all of the appropriate training and must be pre-warned that their performance is not up to the required standard.


If your company has reason to place certain job roles at risk of redundancy, this is another fair reason for dismissal. Some of these reasons can include;

– The job role no longer exists within the company (end of project)

– The business is downsizing due to cost, or if your business is closing

– Technological changes have made a job role redundant

Although redundancies are inevitable, it is important to know that you have explored every option before making a role redundant and you must also remember your responsibilities to treat your staff equally and fairly.

A legal preventation or some other substantial reason

You have a right to dismiss your employee if allowing them to continue to work would be breaking the law or if you have no other choice rather than to terminate their contract.

– If an employee loses an essential part of their job requirements due to legal reasons, for example if your employee is a driver and they lose their drivers license

– Your employee becomes incarcerated

– If your business is taken over, and the employee refuses to accept the new organisation’s employment terms or if they cannot carry on the employee for economic or technical reasons


Another fair reason for dismissal is the end of temporary contracts. At the beginning of the contract, if you are in agreement that it is only a temporary position or job cover e.g. maternity leave cover –  then a dismissal at the end of the temporary period is fair.fair dismissals

Even though the reason for dismissal may be fair, as an employer you must act reasonably and professionally throughout the whole dismissal and disciplinary process. You must carry out investigations where they may be appropriate and follow all the relevant rules and procedures which are involved with dismissals.

If you would like any further advice on a dismissal within your business or about fair reasons for dismissals, please contact one of our chartered HR consultants today who will be happy to help.


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