How To Reduce Legal Risk When Firing An Employee

How To Reduce Legal Risk When Firing An Employee


It’s a shame to think that an employee that you had high hopes for when you employed them didn’t quite work out in the business the way you want. Employers essentially have the right to fire employees for any reason, so long as that reason isn’t an illegal one. However, there can be some situations where even a legal firing can appear illegal depending on what the circumstances are.

For example, if there has been a complaint made by an employee and they’re fired soon after it can appear that the firing has been made to cover your back from the complaint made. Additionally, firing an employee due to their performance may be premature if there’s no evidence to support your reasons.

Luckily, there are steps that you can take as an employer to ensure that legal risk is minimized and lawsuits aren’t sufficient. Here are a few questions that you should ask yourself before firing an employee.

Have your own policies been followed correctly?

Before you think about firing an employee, what you should ensure is followed are the policies that have been put in place. This means that every single step has been followed and everyone has been treated the same if similar situations have occurred. An employee handbook is a good reference to go by in this case. For example, if an employee is missing too much work, check if there has been an issue with the employees attendance. Have they been unexcused from work often? Have they taken the right procedure when off sick?

Employee handbooks help to outline and inform the employees of procedures that take place when disciplinaries are required. If the steps have been followed correctly in these circumstances for every employee, it can’t be argued that the staff member has been unfairly dismissed.

Have issues with performance been documented?

A great way of preventing legal risk is to ensure that any issues you’ve had previously with the employee documented in their file. If there have been incidents related to risk or violation, the people involved should be interviewed and statements should be provided so its well documented.Similarly, evidence of any performance related issues should be well documented in the file. If there’s any further evidence such as CCTV or image photography, this can be kept as further evidence to support your case for firing the individual.

Has the employee recently made a complaint?

Employers should be extremely wary of firing an employee if they’ve recently made a complaint, particularly if it relates to you as the employer. It can appear rather suspicious that the employee was fired shortly after making the complaint and it looks as though the decision has been made in retaliation to the complaint being made. If you are firing the employee, ensure that the reasons are within the rights of the policies and evidence is well documented.

Has the employee been paid properly?

Before you fire an employee, double check that they’ve been paid correctly during their time at the company. If they haven’t, they can use a lawsuit against you due to unpaid wages and they’ll be entitled to every penny regardless of the reason for the termination.

Consulting with a lawyer

If you’ve reviewed these questions and found that some of these are applicable to the situation, it’s worth consulting with Manchester solicitors before you decide to take any action against the employee. If you fire an employee within categories where they have a right to challenge the firing, it can be risky from a legal perspective. Correct procedures not being followed can lead to lawsuits being approved and settlement agreement solicitors being paid for to handle your case.


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