Posted: 22. November 2019 by: Rupert Tennant

How to Fire an Employee

There’s no more important job for a company owner than dealing with their employees. It’s the most important resource a company has. Therefore there’s no harder task than firing an employee. However, it sometimes needs to be done.

A business needs to follow the procedure in these cases and for the person handling it to know what the procedure is. That can be a business owner or an HR, but the laws must be followed to the letter to avoid lawsuits on the matter.

Types of dismissals

There are four different types of dismissals, and they are separated by the way the employees see the firing, and that’s how the situation will be handled. There are procedures for all of these different types of dismissals, and you should strive to keep the process within the first category. If not, there are steps you could take to protect the company even in those cases.

These are:

– Fair dismissal
-unfair dismissal
-constructive dismissal
-wrongful dismissal

We will discuss all of them in detail, both in terms of what they are and how to approach them.

Fair dismissal

Fair dismissal is the one where the employer has a valid reason to let the employee go. It also needs to be provable and proven that the reason is actually valid. There are a few reasons why this can happen. These are:

  • A dismissal due to their capability or conduct on the job.
  • The redundancy meaning that you already have enough employees doing that particular set of tasks
  • There’s a legal reason preventing the employee from doing the job. For instance, those who don’t have a driver’s license anymore can’t work as drivers.

Unfair dismissal

This is a dismissal that has happened without a valid reason. Obviously, this is always a matter of contest since the company will see the dismissal as a fair one while the employee can claim that it’s not a fair dismissal and that they have a reason to sue. That’s why proof and records are so important.

These can happen when:

  • The reason you have for the firing wasn’t the real reason.
  • The reason wasn’t fair, or it wasn’t the fault of the employee.
  • You acted unreasonably in the firing process, for instance, by not giving them enough time to change something about the way they work.

There are also a few reasons for dismissal that are considered to be unfair right away regardless of the context:

  • pregnancy, including all reasons relating to maternity.
  • family, including parental leave, paternity leave (birth and adoption), adoption leave, or time off for dependants
  • acting as an employee representative
  • acting as a trade union representative acting as an occupational pension scheme trustee
  • joining or not joining a trade union
  • being a part-time or fixed-term employee
  • pay and working hours, including the Working Time Regulations, annual leave, and the National Minimum Wage


The most common reason for dismissal is due to the conduct of the employee. That means that the employee doesn’t act as they should on the job, meaning that they don’t follow the guidelines set by the business.

You can dismiss the employee if they cannot do the job in accordance with the standards you have set.

You can also dismiss them when they are able to do the job, but they don’t want to for some reason.

In the end, you can dismiss them if they have already committed some sort of misconduct, such as being late or stealing.


Sometimes the employee may not be able to work due to long-term illness. You can fire them, in this case, to fill in the position, but you need to make sure that this is done according to the laws on the matter since it could be a reason for a lawsuit.

You’ll need to get the assessment of the employee’s health, and these need to be done with their permission, and they need to see it before you. Then you need to create an occupational health assessment, and the two should prove they are unable to work.


Firing an employee isn’t easy as it comes to it being a business decision. However, it’s also a legal one, and you need to make sure that you’ve followed the law when it comes to who you can fire and for what. That way, you can avoid any lawsuits from former employees.

There are 4 main approaches to firing that are divided based on how the employee sees the reason for which they are fired. You can also fire a person who is no longer healthy enough to work, but that’s only the case when you can prove they can’t work, and you can prove it.