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Dismissal

 

The Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 states that an employee must have one complete year’s service to pursue a claim for Unfair Dismissal against their employer.

Every employee has the right, after 1 year in continuous employment, to request a written statement of the reasons for dismissal. The onus is on the employee to make the request, which can be made in writing or verbally. The employer should issue the statement within 14 days of the date of the request.

However, there are ranges of circumstances where employees may complain regardless of their length of service, for example, if they are dismissed for trade union membership/activities, maternity related grounds or exercising certain other statutory employment rights. Qualifying employees who are dismissed are entitled, on request, to receive a written statement of reasons for dismissal within 14 days.

As a minimum, employees are entitled to the following notice before their employment is ended: an employer must give one week’s notice after one month’s employment, two weeks’ notice after two years’ employment, three weeks’ after three years, up to at least 12 weeks’ after 12 years’ employment.

Dismissal on grounds of redundancy may be unfair if the employees are selected purely for certain reasons, including trade union membership/activities; maternity related grounds or exercising certain other statutory employment rights.

Dismissal is only fair if the employer can show it relates to the employee’s conduct, capability/qualifications for the job, redundancy or retirement, a statutory restriction or some other substantial reason that could justify the dismissal. It is against the law to be dismissed or discriminated against (treated differently) for any of the following reasons: sex; race; age; disability; sexual orientation; religious belief or political opinion.

Discipline and Grievance

The Statutory Dismissal and Disciplinary Procedure (effective from April 2005) applies to most dismissals and all disciplinary action excluding oral and written warnings.  However, an employer may (in the absence of a more detailed company procedure) chose to use the 3 step procedure in all disciplinary situations. The three steps require an employer to:

1.Send the employee a written explanation of the conduct or other circumstances that have led them to consider taking disciplinary action against them.

2.Invite the employee to a meeting to discuss the issue and inform them of their decision after the meeting is over.

3.Invite the employee to an appeal meeting – if they wish to appeal the employer’s decision.

The Statutory Grievance procedure enables employees and employers to attempt to resolve employment disputes in-house and involves 3 steps:

1.  The employee must send a written explanation of their grievance to their employer.

2. The employer must invite the employee to a meeting to discuss the grievance and inform the employee of their decision after the meeting is over.

3. The employer must invite the employee to an appeal meeting if they wish to appeal the employer’s decision.

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