“Could you come in now direct to see us?” That is a question which I am frequently asked by managers, who are not sure what to do in the case of a dismissal and are wise enough to ask for assistance. The legislation regarding a dismissal can be tricky and difficult enough for any individual and it is more difficult when you are agitated when something has gone wrong and you are tempted to make a decision on the spur of the moment. In those cases it is always sound to get an outsider in who can look at the facts coldly and make a fair assessment about what needs to be done.
In my experience managers do not enjoy reprimanding or dismissing any of their employees lightly. The opposite is true. In most cases managers will avoid giving feedback regarding employees’ performance at all cost. They will give the employee chance after chance in the hope the problem will improve and will go away. In most cases they do improve, the employee somehow gets the message and cops on, get his act together. In other cases this doesn’t happen and then at a certain point after giving him the benefit of the doubt several times, the manager has enough and wants to end the employment there and then.
Dismissing someone in Ireland isn’t the most difficult thing to do. There are other countries where such procedures are much more complicated. However, there are certain strict rules one has to follow and I will give you now some general guidelines how to act (however, by no means complete as one could write several books on this subject). First of all employees must be issued with a copy of the company’s disciplinary procedure within 28 days of commencement of employment, failing to so could jeopardise any dismissal case.
Employees can be fairly dismissed for the following reasons: Conduct, Capability and Competence and Redundancy. In cases where the conduct, capability and competence of an employee aren’t up to the required standards the first thing a manager or supervisor needs to do is to give a verbal warning. While giving a warning you must inform the employee regarding the departure of required standards, what action of improvement is required, when will the matter be reviewed again, what time limit is on the warning and what action will be taken if the improvement is not made. As you probably have to prove as a company that the dismissal was fair you need to prove that you gave the warning by putting it in writing as well and preferably you give the warning in the presence of a fellow manager. If the agreed improvements do not take place then you should give a written warning. Again you must inform the employee regarding the departure of required standards, what action of improvement is required, when will the matter be reviewed again, what time limit is on the warning and what action will be taken if the improvement is not made. Again give the written warning in the presence of another manager, as you might have to refute any allegations of unfair behaviour made against you at a later stage.
If the necessary improvements do not materialise or other misdemeanours occur during the time limit of the warning, then the Final Written Warning comes into play which is given again in the presence of a fellow manager. You need to explain again what is required from the employee and how long the warning stands.
If the necessary improvements do not come about or other wrongdoings happen during the time limit then a disciplinary meeting, as in previous warnings, needs to be conducted in which natural justice has to take place, this means that: –
- The employee must be presented with the case against him / her;
- The employee must be allowed to be represented;
- The employee must be permitted and allowed to state their case
- The employer must hear and be seen to hear the case being made
- The employer must only form judgement after having considered all the facts disclosed.
In coming to a final decision the manager must reflect that the sanction must be appropriate to the charge, if there is a dismissal this must be not be seen as excessive, the manager must have approached the hearings fairly and objectively.
Its sounds like an impossibility that any employee will let it come to three warnings and still hasn’t got the message, however, it has happened and will happen again tomorrow, so be prepared!
As the employee in a dismissal case is probably going through one their worst moments in life, be always polite and respectful to the employee. This is helpful for both parties.