Introduction to this document

Notification of potential dismissal meeting

The law on termination of employment can differ according to how long the employee has worked for you. For employees with short service, termination can be relatively straightforward.

Short-serving employees

As a general rule, short-serving employees do not have the right to claim unfair dismissal. An employee cannot generally make a claim for unfair dismissal unless they have been employed for two years or more. There is an ever-growing list of exceptions to this rule (these exceptions are known as the automatically unfair dismissal reasons) and so it is always wise to take legal advice on any dismissal. In addition, employees can claim they have been unlawfully discriminated against because of their sex, married or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity, race, disability, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, age or religion or belief regardless of their length of employment. That said, the general legal position is that if you wish to dismiss a short-serving employee due to their poor performance or misconduct, the dismissal can be reasonably easy. For these employees, their only legal entitlements are to their contractual notice period (or to pay in lieu if you do not wish them to work out this period), to all outstanding wages and to pay in lieu of accrued but untaken annual leave entitlement.

No procedural requirements

There are no procedural requirements that you must comply with in relation to dismissing a short-serving employee for performance or conduct reasons. You can, if you wish, simply issue the Dismissal on Notice Due to Unsatisfactory Performance/Conduct Letter. However, if you do wish to hold a prior meeting with the employee, use our Notification of Potential Dismissal Meeting. It invites the employee to a meeting to discuss their proposed dismissal.

Contractual disciplinary procedure

The position may become more complicated if the employee’s contract of employment provides a contractual disciplinary procedure governing misconduct or poor performance. If the procedure is contractual for all staff, this means you have agreed to follow it irrespective of the length of service of the employee. However, if the procedure is clearly expressed to be non-contractual, then there should be no problem. If it is contractual and you don’t follow it, the employee would have a potential claim against you for breach of contract. This type of claim is generally worth about three to four weeks’ pay.