Earlier this month, Martin Higginson hit the headlines for being dismissed by Monstermob, the mobile phone ringtones company.
However, this was no ordinary dismissal. Higginson, who was the company’s founder and chief executive, was dismissed by e-mail on a Sunday afternoon. According to Higginson, this came completely out of the blue.
Follow the procedure
Since coming into force in October 2004, hundreds of articles have been written about the statutory dismissal procedures, and most HR professionals are aware of the necessity to follow this procedure when dismissing an employee. Failure to do so can lead to a finding of automatic unfair dismissal and an uplift to the employee’s compensation of between 10% and 50%.
So, why would an employer decide to forgo the statutory procedure?
Put simply, following the procedure is time consuming and requires patience. In essence, the procedure requires employers to:
write to the employee, setting out the nature of their conduct, capability or other circumstances that lead the employer to contemplate dismissing them
invite the employee to a meeting to discuss the issue
tell the employee of the employer’s decision and offer the right of appeal.
If the employee appeals, the employer must then invite them to a meeting to discuss the appeal and communicate the final decision to them after the meeting.
Many managers see the procedure as a frustrating distraction from their ‘real work’, particularly if the employee is being dismissed by reason of misconduct. Also, they can feel slightly odd dismissing a senior executive in this, rather perfunctory, way.
Further, following the procedure does not, in and of itself, protect the employer from an unfair dismissal claim. Therefore, managers often seek another way to dismiss employees – a quicker, easier way.
Take a risk
An employer can choose to dismiss an employee immediately and accept the consequences. Now that the max