Advising an employee of summary dismissal

A recent case has reminded employers that when they are communicating a decision to dismiss an employee for gross misconduct without notice, the best course of action is to inform them of that decision in a face-to-face meeting and hand them a letter confirming the decision there and then.

If an employer has to communicate the decision to dismiss by letter sent through the post there are risks involved because the effective date of termination of employment will not be until the employee has actually received and read that letter. Given current weather conditions and the efficiency (or lack of) of Royal Mail how would you know that the letter is ever received? In any event receipt could be some days after the letter was sent.

On the plus side an employee must be able to show that they did not deliberately seek to avoid reading the letter, but best advice must be to hand the letter to the employee or use a guaranteed delivery methodology with a signed for receipt.

It is worth remembering that employers must also follow the correct disciplinary procedure before deciding to dismiss an employee for gross misconduct if claims are to be avoided.

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