In Greenwood v Whiteghyll Plastics employers are reminded that when they are considering dismissing an employee as the result of pressure from a third party, such as one of their clients, in order for the dismissal to be fair they must consider the following:

1) Whether or not the dismissal will result in an injustice to the employee and if so the extent of that injustice. An assessment of this would include considering:

  • the employee’s length of service;
  • whether the employee’s work was satisfactory;
  • any difficulties the employee would face in obtaining new employment.

2) What steps the employer could take given its size and administrative resources to alleviate that injustice eg:

  • Seeking to resolve the issue with the third party to avoid dismissal
  • Looking for an alternative role for the employee
  • Swapping the employee with another role that does not involve contact with the client in question

Without considering the above employers will not simply be able to rely on the pressure from the client to establish the substantive fairness of the dismissal.

If dismissal cannot be avoided after due consideration of the above the employee will need to be dismissed for ‘some other substantial reason’. In this situation employers should ensure that, having considered the points set out above its conclusions and reasons for the dismissal are documented and a fair dismissal procedure is followed – the statutory dismissal procedures as a minimum.