Can I dismiss an employee immediately if they have not completed two years’ employment?Nearly all employees have a right to a notice period so it is unlikely that any employee can be dismissed immediately. Employers need to give employees either their contractual notice or, in some cases, their statutory notice period if this is longer than the notice period in their contract. In addition, employees who have two years’ or more continuous employment with their employer or an associated one have a right to a fair dismissal. While employees who have not completed two years’ service have less protection, this does not mean a claim cannot be brought against you. There are some reasons for dismissal that allow an employee with less than two years’ service to bring an unfair dismissal claim, including dismissals:
- for blowing the whistle;
- for a health and safety reason;
- because of participation in trade union activity;
- for reasons connected with pregnancy, childbirth, or statutory maternity, paternity, adoption, parental leave, shared parental leave or time off for dependants.
Do I have to follow redundancy procedures?Redundancy can be a fair dismissal provided a fair procedure is followed. Redundancy is legally defined and is where the dismissal is “wholly or mainly attributable” to the following:
- a business closure;
- the employee’s place of work is to close; or
- a reduced requirement of the employer for employees to carry out work of a particular kind or to do so at the place where the employee was employed.
Can I lay off staff temporarily?After the furlough scheme ends, you may be in a position where you cannot immediately provide work for all your employees. Rather than make redundancies, you may want to consider laying some employees off temporarily or reducing their hours. If there is no provision in the employee’s employment contract regarding lay-off and short- term working, the action can only be taken if:
- there is an implied right to lay-off employees or put them on short-term working but there is a strict test and is only likely in those industries where there is a custom and practice of lay-offs and short-time working; or
- you get the agreement of the employees to make a change to the terms and conditions of employment. This will usually involve consultation with the employees and possibly collective consultation depending on the number of employees involved and the likelihood that they will agree to the changes. If you and the employee reach an agreement to make changes, ensure it is documented in writing.
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