Dismissal for some other substantial reason

On occasion, you may need to dismiss someone for reasons that do not fit the more common reasons of misconduct, performance and redundancy.

In these cases what do you do? Can you still dismiss them without falling foul of the law?

What amounts to a fair dismissal?

To recap, the key ingredients to a fair dismissal are having a valid reason and acting reasonably in the circumstances.

You can legally dismiss an employee if you can show that the reason for the dismissal was one of the following reasons:

  • related to an employee’s conduct
  • related to the employee’s capability or qualification for the role
  • redundancy
  • a statutory restriction that prevents the employment continuing
  • some other substantial reason

What does “some other substantial reason” mean?

There is no statutory definition or official guidance of “some other substantial reason”, but it is seen as a residual category which covers dismissals that do not fit into the other four reasons.

However it is important that you do not see this as a green light to dismissing anyone you don’t particularly like! Remember to ensure a dismissal is fair, it is not enough to have a valid reason to dismiss; you must have acted reasonably in the circumstances in treating it as a sufficient reason for dismissing the employee.

What constitutes “some other substantial reason”?

Some examples include:

  • An employee is handed a long prison sentence.
  • A personality clash has broken down the employment relationship so it is impossible for the employees to work together.
  • Where a business restructure does not give rise to actual redundancies.
  • The expiry of a fixed-term contract of a temporary employee who was hired to cover a person on maternity leave.
  • The dismissal and re-engagement of an employee who refused to agree to changes to their contractual terms and conditions.
  • Dismissals at the request of third parties.

Before you take steps to dismiss an employee, we would strongly recommend you speak to your Employment Law Adviser to guide you through the appropriate procedure. They can give you tailored and comprehensive advice to ensure that the dismissal is legally compliant and fair and explain the risks and costs involved.

Want to know more about dismissal?

Read our other guidance:

Director of Legal Services

James Tamm

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