The Employment Rights Act 1996 lists the reasons you may have for fairly dismissing an employee. The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) further clarifies these as follows:
- A reason related to an employee’s conduct
- A reason related to an employee’s capability or qualifications for the job
- Because of a redundancy
- Because of a statutory duty or restriction that prevents the employment being continued
But what happens if you feel that you have reasonable grounds for dismissing an employee, but your reasons don’t neatly fit in to any of the above grounds for a fair dismissal? Under these circumstances you can dismiss someone for “some other substantial reason” (SOSR). As the term suggests, SOSR is more difficult to clearly define. It is probably easiest to outline some of the circumstances that could be considered as SOSR:
- A dismissal due to a personality clash between employees that makes it impossible for them to work together
- The dismissal of an employee where there are concerns relating to the safeguarding of children or vulnerable adults, but where the employer does not have grounds for a misconduct dismissal
- The non-renewal of the fixed-term contract of an employee recruited as maternity leave cover
In common with all dismissals, although there is no legal requirement for the procedure you adopt, dismissing someone for “some other substantial reason” must be considered to be fair. SOSR should not be thought of as a “loophole” that allows you to sack someone you don’t like, without substantial, fair and reasonable grounds. And due to the fact that the term SOSR is not black and white, it is prudent to seek professional advice before dismissing someone for “some other substantial reason”.
To find out more about SOSR dismissals, or just to discuss any HR problems you may be having, give us a call.