What Happens When a Sacked Employee Won’t Go Quietly?
Taking on staff may sometimes appear to be a leap of faith. If they do disappoint and their performance fails to improve, there may come a time when they have to be given their marching orders. But that brings with it another set of concerns if the member of staff doesn’t go quietly and disputes the termination of their employment.
With awards for unfair dismissal cases running into the many thousands, they can pose a very serious threat to small businesses. An employer may well be justified in dismissing an employee, but without the backing of human resources specialists they are often unsure as to how to manage the situation. If handled incorrectly, they may end up in a tribunal when they didn’t need to be there at all.
Keith Myers is a Director of The Myers Touch, a Winchester-based company that specialises in creating bespoke kitchen living spaces. When he had to fire an employee recently, he thought he had heard the last of it. “We have had a number of situations in the last year where staff have been tricky to handle and I had to fire somebody who then came back with a massive wodge of legal documentation for unfair dismissal, which was actually completely unfounded.”
The threat of possibly facing an employment tribunal came as something of a shock. Keith prides himself on making The Myers Touch a great place to work and he encourages his people to be the best they can be. “We’ve invested in their development and done lots of things to try and build the team. We’ve been reasonably successful in that, but actually employing people is I think the hardest part of the job.
“We have had a few little bumps in the road, but no one had ever gone legal on us, and I’ve been in business for 14 years. We’re actually pretty good bosses to work for.”
Keith sought advice from a legal telephone advisory service. Although he felt the information they provided him was borderline legally correct, he believed it would not have been best practice had it been implemented.
“With all these things all they give you is telephone advice and in one instance we found the advice wasn’t very good. You then get to a point where they start charging you extra for legal support.”
Disappointed with the response, Keith decided to contact Gap HR and Carolyne Wahlen. “We talked it through and Carolyne explained everything to me. We worked through the detail of the response to this former employee and sent it. After that, we never heard back from them again. It was all done and dusted.”
The unfair dismissal claim was unwarranted and a tribunal case was avoided. Even though he was glad of the outcome, having to dismiss the employee in the first place was a difficult decision.
“You could be a tough old boot and ignore people’s feelings and emotions, but that’s not the type of company we are. On a personal level it’s upsetting because you try to make it work, because of the investment in them and because we’re dealing with people’s lives. They have families to feed and responsibilities and you can’t just put them out on the street as it were.
“We feel a sense of responsibility to make the best decisions we can. And when he have to make a tough decision to sack someone or make them redundant or whatever it might be then we do that incredibly begrudgingly and with reluctance.”
Director – The Myers Touch