How to Manage the 2Ds: Discrimination and Dismissal in the Workplace
Tips for employers to the reduce risk of cases being brought against them
This article gives advice to employers about how having the right structures and processes in place can reduce the risk of claims being brought which could have been avoided. Practical tips include how to handle situations legally and fairly whilst being equipped to deal with the 2 Ds if they arise: discrimination and dismissal.
1 Discrimination – reducing the risk
Today, there is no place whatsoever for discrimination. Whether in the street, using transport, at leisure, online or in the workplace, discrimination is unwanted, undesirable and simply unacceptable.
Yet, while discrimination has no place in the workplace it can creep in unexpectedly. As an employer, you could be unaware of the consequences of discrimination and the forms it can take in everyday work situations.
Tips on building strong structures to guard against discrimination:
- Ensure all managers and employees understand the legal meaning of discrimination and how what can be thought of as an innocent situation or ‘banter’ could be deemed to be discriminatory.
- Develop and implement a policy that deals with discrimination (including clearly defining the grounds of discrimination, strictly prohibit it, lay out mechanisms and procedures to deal with such cases, and include sanctions to give your policy ‘teeth’).
- Introduce mandatory training to help promote recognition. Focus on raising awareness and offering practical and safe remedies to deter situations which could result in discrimination.
- Put your money where you mouth is: thoroughly investigate and resolve cases promptly and effectively.
- Create a culture of ‘anti- discrimination’ at all levels by asking: Could this be in any way seen as discrimination? Apply this to all activities in your business.
Better to be safe legally, than sorry financially.
2 Dismissal – handling the situation fairly
Dismissing an employee is something you, as an employer, are likely to be faced with at some point. However uncomfortable it may be, sometimes is cannot be helped – so it is important to know how to manage dismissal fairly and legally.
Getting this right depends on two vitally important elements: substance and procedure.
Substance relates to the actual reason for the dismissal and is key! Even if you have followed the procedure to a tee, if the matter lacks substantive fairness, there is no legal reason for the dismissal and if carried out, would be unfair.
There are 5 potentially fair reasons to dismiss an employee:
- Statutory duty or restriction.
- SOSR (Some Other Substantial Reason).
With procedure, things are not as simple…
Assuming that there is a fair substantive reason for dismissing an employee (let’s use the example of gross misconduct in the form of theft) which can be proven, it is equally important that the proper procedure in dismissing the employee is carried out. Unfortunately, this is where many faults occur.
Here is a 5-point guide for a proper dismissal procedure
- Investigate the allegations fairly and thoroughly.
- Meet with the employee to discuss the allegations and seek their input as part of the investigation.
- Invite the employee to a disciplinary hearing in writing with at least 48 hours’ notice and offer them the right to be accompanied to the meeting by a colleague or trade union representative.
- After the hearing has taken place, notify the employee of the outcome in writing.
- Give the employee the right to appeal their dismissal.
When it comes to discrimination and dismissal, being thorough helps to limit the risk of tribunal claims. Not forgetting the basic essentials for any business which includes keeping on top of regular changes in the law.
If you would like expert employment law advice, contact our team of specialists. Our employment team has decades of experience of dealing with complex law matters and offer an initial free, no obligation discussion.
As well as discrimination and dismissal, find out which other areas of employment law we can help with.