The Acas Code on disciplinary and grievance procedures applies to dismissals for "some other substantial reason", at least according to a first instance tribunal decision. Although the decision seems wrong, it would be prudent for employers to follow as much of the Code as is reasonable.

An employment tribunal has ruled that the Acas Code applied where an employer was seeking to change the employment terms of a group of employees and dismissed one employee who refused to agree.

Rather than focus on what is a "disciplinary situation", the tribunal noted that redundancy and the non-renewal of fixed-term contracts are expressly excluded from the Code, and concluded that any other type of dismissal not expressly excluded must be covered.

In fact the express exclusion of these two types of dismissal was probably to highlight key changes from the position under the previous statutory dispute resolution procedures. If the tribunal's analysis is correct (which we doubt), the Code might also cover sickness and statutory prohibition dismissals. It is clear from Acas's Guide that there was no intention for the Code to cover sickness dismissals.

Although tribunal decisions are not binding, it would be prudent to follow as much of the Code as seems reasonable (eg setting out the issues in writing in advance of a meeting with the employee, etc), not least to ensure a fair dismissal procedure. (Cummings v Siemens Communications, ET)