Over time there have been laws passed by Parliament to protect employees. The Employment Rights Act of 1996 is one example.
So how do these laws and others affect employers dismissing staff within 2 years, if at all?
With nearly 40 years of experience in employment law within the Cardiff and Barry area of South Wales, we understand that fully ending contracts can be a minefield.
So we can understand a little more about employers’ rights when dismissing staff within 2 years, let’s start with looking at why you may be thinking of ending a contract of employment.
Why would a member of staff be dismissed within two years?
Hiring staff is not without risk, and although the process of hiring seemed to place certain individuals as a good fit, after time it could be discovered that’s not the case.
It could also be that there may be issues with the capability once in the role or some type of conduct that may be raising concerns.
In some cases, it could be that you can lawfully terminate their contract within a two-year period without prior warning or any further investigation.
Depending on circumstances, you may not have to defend any decisions in terminating an employment contract within two years, or even how it was handled.
However once an employee has had two years of service with your company, you must adhere to the five fair reasons for dismissal.
“Depending on circumstances, you may not have to defend any decisions in terminating an employment contract within two years”
Five fair reasons for dismissal
There are five statutory fair reasons for dismissing an employee after two years. according to the Employment Rights Act 1996. They include:
- Conduct (which can include some conduct outside of work such as damaging a company’s reputation on social media, for example)
- Breach of a statutory restriction
- Some other substantial reasons are commonly abbreviated as SOSR. This reason is wide-ranging and designed to cover other scenarios which don’t fit into the other four areas. Examples of this are employee differences, expiry of a fixed term contract, or a breakdown in trust and confidence
Follow a fair procedure
So although you might feel that dismissing staff within two years can be fast-tracked, it’s worth understanding that as with any kind of employee issue, it’s in both parties interests to proceed with a little caution.
By acting in a fair and transparent way with any employees it gives the message to those in your industry and future employees that you are a reputable and caring employer.
“With any kind of employee issues, it’s in both parties interests to proceed with a little caution.”
How to dismiss employees within 2 years
Giving new employees the time to improve can help to give the message that yours is a business where staff are treated with respect and given time to settle in and grow. This is especially true with situations relating to capability issues.
It’s also worth thinking about the fact that hiring and firing staff is a costly procedure.
However, if it really is an untenable situation, then here are a few tips on how to dismiss staff within 2 years.
For employees who have a right to claim unfair dismissal, you would also need to show that you acted reasonably in treating any one of these statutory reasons as sufficient for dismissal.
- Invite them into a formal meeting and prepare them that the meeting may result in their dismissal
- Allow them to bring a representative into the meeting and advise that the spokesperson will be able to respond on their behalf
- After the meeting make steps to investigate any representatives or staff members’ responses
- Arrange another meeting following investigations so you can notify the staff member personally of your decision. If dismissal at this stage is not appropriate, then issue a written warning or another form of sanction in writing.
“It’s also worth thinking about the fact that hiring and firing staff is a costly procedure.”
Reasons where it will be seen as unfair dismissal within two years
If you are in the process of deciding to dismiss an employee within two years, it’s worth understanding that there are circumstances which would be deemed unfair.
For those reasons, there is no requirement for a member of staff to have been with your company for more than two years.
These particular reasons are seen to be a violation of basic human rights and as such, the law protects them.
This law, The Equality Act 2010 protects all staff, whether or not they have only been with a company for less than two years.
As outlined in this act, the law protects all employees including those who have less than two years of service for the following 9 characteristics
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnerships
- Sexual orientation
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Race nationality or ethnicity (including skin colour)
- Raising a health and safety concern
- Making a disclosure about a wrongdoing
- Statutory rights relating to annual leave or minimum wage
If an employee is dismissed for any of the reasons above it may amount to unlawful discrimination.
Any employee who seeks to lodge a claim with the Employment Tribunal for any of the above reasons is bound by strict time limits.
There is usually a three-month window from the time of the discriminatory action to start the process of ACAS Early Discrimination.
”These particular reasons are seen to be a violation of basic human rights and as such, the law protects them.”
Wrongful dismissal of staff within 2 years of service
Although there are many reasons you can dismiss staff by law within a two-year period, statutory and contractual notice periods are still a legal entitlement.
Even if they have not yet accrued 2 years of continuous service they may be able to claim wrongful dismissal as a result of a breach of contract claim.
Wrongful dismissal is usually based on a breach of contract claim where a staff member has been dismissed without being given the correct notice or pay in lieu of notice.
This means any employer who fires a staff member within two years must ensure to provide them with the statutory notice period.
This statutory notice period covers any staff member who has been employed for more than one month and less than two years.
There are some specific cases where you would be able to dismiss an employee without either pay in lieu of notice or without any notice.
These include such conduct as:
- Physical violence
- Serious health and safety breaches
- Intoxication with the use of drink or drugs
- Significant insubordination
“Any employer who fires a staff member within two years must ensure to provide them with the statutory notice period.”
We hope this article has given you some important information on dismissing staff within 2 years.
Dismissing staff for any length of service is not without its pitfalls and even a genuine mistake could potentially cost you legal fees and damages if your employee makes a claim.
Our expert law team is on hand to help you navigate through employment law processes and protect you from legal risk. We provide jargon-free, no-nonsense help to make sure your business is protected.
For more information get in touch with our experienced team for a confidential chat.