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Termination

Notice

Are employers required to give notice of termination?

Yes, unless the employer has grounds for dismissing an employee summarily (eg, for gross misconduct).

The period of notice to be given by an employer is normally set out in the contract of employment. If this is less than the statutory minimum notice period, the statutory notice period will apply (one week for every full year worked up to a maximum of 12 weeks). Employees must usually give not less than one week’s notice. There is no statutory requirement that notice be given in writing, but this is almost invariable practice and a common contractual stipulation.

Redundancies

What are the rules that govern redundancy procedures?

Redundancy is a potentially fair reason for dismissal, but it is crucial that an employer follows a fair procedure. The key elements of a fair procedure include:

  • a fair selection process (including the use of appropriate selection criteria);
  • individual consultation with employees about their proposed selection;
  • consideration of alternative employment; and
  • the opportunity to appeal.

Are there particular rules for collective redundancies/mass layoffs?

Yes. There is an obligation to consult collectively (ie, with trade union or elected employee representatives) where an employer is proposing to dismiss as redundant 20 or more employees at one establishment within 90 days or less.

Protections

What protections do employees have on dismissal?

The main protection for employees on dismissal is the right to bring an unfair dismissal claim in the employment tribunal. Unless the dismissal is automatically unfair (eg, for whistleblowing), an employee must have at least two years’ service in order to bring such a claim.

In order for a dismissal to be fair, it must be for one of the five potentially fair reasons for dismissal set out in Section 98 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (including conduct, capability and redundancy), and the employer must have followed a fair procedure. A fair procedure will usually entail the employee being allowed to make representations on the proposal to dismiss him or her before the employer makes a final decision to do so. Employees in disciplinary and grievance meetings usually have the right to be accompanied by a colleague or union official.

An employee can also bring a claim for wrongful dismissal if the employer breaches the notice provisions in the employee’s contract of employment or a discrimination claim if the employee claims that the dismissal is discriminatory.

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