“I am not joking when I say this ... if you ever work with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect ... talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot ... on the spot. No ifs, ands, or buts”
President Joe Biden, January 2021
Over the past few weeks and months, we have watched aghast at some of the events that have taken place across the pond in America. Please don’t mistake this for a political post however this blog serves as a reminder of how important it is to address bad behaviour in the workplace.
I am in no way advocating President Biden’s “Fire on the Spot” policy, especially as the United States is governed by vastly different employment or “labor” laws. But even in the UK, I regularly receive calls from business owners who want nothing more than to point their index finger and utter those immortal words, à la Lord Alan Sugar. Whilst firing on the spot makes for great Television and ratings, in the real business world, governed by UK employment law, situations where this would be deemed as a “reasonable” act are few and far between, except in the most egregious of circumstances.
This approach is definitely bad for business and here’s why…
However tempting this may be, I strongly recommend resisting the urge as it is likely to result in an unfair dismissal claim being brought against the Company – even if it is obvious that the employee in question is in the wrong.
Following a process is key to ensuring a fair dismissal and reduces the risk of such dismissal being challenged. It also gives the Company more of an opportunity to be confident that they are making the right decision.
Should you suspect misconduct your starting point should be to conduct an investigation to establish the facts and, depending on initial consideration of the evidence gathered, take a decision on whether the nature of the misconduct warrants further action to be taken under the disciplinary policy.
The ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures contains statutory guidance on how a disciplinary process should be followed. At Personology, we also ensure that our clients have a Disciplinary Policy in place that sets out the full disciplinary process, which also incorporates the recommended actions within the ACAS Code.
It is also particularly important that a business follows the ACAS Code as in the event of an unfair dismissal claim proceeding in an Employment Tribunal, if it is found that the Code was not followed, a Tribunal has the power to increase any compensation awarded to the employee by up to a maximum of 25%.
We have had many clients over the years beg us to find a way to sack someone on the spot as they “just want them gone’ exclaiming that ‘in the good ol’ days you could’ and that the ‘the process will take too long’. Whilst we do totally understand and appreciate how frustrating situations like this can be, the facts are that handling such issues correctly will in the long term be less stressful, less time consuming and less expensive. Tribunal cases take months, sometimes years, to come to fruition and can cost a company thousands in management time and legal fees, even if they win, leaving aside the damage such cases can do to employee morale and company reputation.
We have seen and managed literally hundreds of such cases over the years so if you have an employee that has committed misconduct and you would like assistance with addressing this or have any other employment law or HR related issues, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.
Whilst it is unclear whether President Biden meant his statement to be taken literally, his statement has received enough press that I thought it was important to remind you that slow and steady is generally a better policy than on the spot terminations, regardless of how momentarily gratifying it may be.
If you have an employee that you would like to review, please contact us on 01792 296 178 or at firstname.lastname@example.org for a no obligation chat and/or if you would like to keep up to speed on all HR news why not sign up to our newsletter.
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