SMEs taking shortcuts when dismissing staff

Nearly two thirds of small and medium-sized businesses admit to not following correct procedures when sacking a worker, research finds.

According to data from Peninsula Business Services, 84 per cent of SMEs are unhappy with red tape when dismissing employees, with small businesses spending an average of nine hours a week dealing with HR red tape.

Alan Price, employment law director of Peninsula says that while red tape is a frustration, it should not be used as an excuse to take shortcuts when sacking someone.

‘I hope the government uses 2013 as an opportunity to slash the barrage of paperwork employers face on a day-to-day basis.

‘[However], it concerns me that employers would rather look for a quick option to dismiss somebody. I can understand the frustration, however there are too many risks involved when sacking somebody incorrectly. Firstly small businesses need proper policies and procedures to deal with underperforming employees. Employers should monitor the workplace performance of employees, watching out for signs of underperformance and look at addressing it immediately.’

Price says that employees know more about their employment rights than ever before, and that it is easy for an employee to take their employer to tribunal.

‘If a small business is unable to prove they followed procedures correctly then the tribunal is likely to rule in favour of the worker. This is the risk employers take when they dismiss a worker without following procedures.’

He concludes, ‘No matter how frustrated you may be, never dismiss a worker without following correct procedure. If you are unsure of the procedures you need to follow then seek legal advice. Employment law is complicated and procedures can be lengthy, however it is not worth taking a risk.

‘If a disgruntled employee decides to take you to tribunal then remember it’s not only the financial tribunal award you need to worry about, it’s also your company reputation.’

Ben Lobel

Delphine Hintz

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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Employment Rights