This is an interesting legal topic that rarely gets a mention. Most employers, employees and HR professionals are well aware of the main grounds for which an employee can be dismissed; gross misconduct, continuing misconduct after a final written warning, etc. But there is also a “catch all” legitimate ground for dismissal for “some other substantial reason”, or SOSR for short.
In order to dismiss an employee fairly an employer has to have a fair reason and follow a fair procedure, but if for example, an employer is struggling with a “problem employee” whose behaviour is affecting the morale of other staff, the employer cannot fairly dismiss the employee because of his conduct, as the issue is not the conduct itself, but how their conduct affects other members of staff. Nor do the other fair reasons for dismissal; capability, redundancy or breach of statutory restriction apply in this situation.
Instead SOSR can sometimes be used in the following situations where the employee:
- Causes significant business disruption because of personality clashes with others
- Refuses to accept any changes to their employment contract
- Is likely to divulge confidential business information
- Can no longer be trusted
- Causes important customers or other third parties to call for their dismissal.
Despite the above, it is important however, to follow the correct disciplinary procedure at all times regardless of the situation; the employee must have adequate warning, a chance to appeal and any concerns or issues the employee might have that caused his behaviour should be addressed well before any attitudes harden on both sides and dismissal is contemplated.
It is also important to ensure you follow the ACAS code of practice to the letter, because even if the employee contributes towards his dismissal as a result of his behaviour, employers who fail to follow the ACAS code of practice risk incurring financial penalties as well as the dismissal being deemed unfair because the correct procedures were not followed.
As always, if you need any help or advice in this or any other legal matter, why not give is a call?