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A recent study showed that one in 166 had fully read and fully understood their employment contract. Out of 1000 employees asked about their contract only 93 had read their contract or skim read the main points (such as holiday entitlement and sick day protocol). Furthermore, 56% of workers said that they had no idea of what their contract currently was.
An employment contract is a useful tool for both employers and employees. For employers, it allows them to control (within reason) actions of employees and lays down ground rules for them, while for employees it solidifies their place in a company and informs them of their rights. However, the latest study shows that many workers in medium-sized companies and not reading their contract, breaching the document then taking legal action citing unfair dismissal. However, claiming ignorance is not a protection against a dismissal. According to the company that conducted the research hundreds of employees take legal action with no basis to do so due to their contract with the odds drastically in favour of the employer.
Moonlighting, use of social media and much more can be entered into a contract in the hope of protecting your company and also informing their employee of their rights. However, many dismissals are justified but employees, perhaps out of desperation, attempt to take legal action, often looking for a settlement, payment or even their position back.
In most cases, employees cannot sue for unfair dismissal unless they have at least two years' continuous service with you, but in some cases employees can sue regardless of age or length of service. However, when dismissing an employee there are a few key steps that you can take to ensure that you are not exposing yourself or your company.
It is important to have a fair and established system when dismissing employees. This should be done in writing, establishing a clear system to implement any dismissal. When speaking to the employee you should clearly explain the reason for their dismissal, which should always be a last resort. Dismissing an employee must be for the right reasons and must be deemed fair. Regardless of how just your reasoning, there is always the risk of an employee taking legal action despite their dismissal being clearly explained. We recommend that you always have a witness or even a solicitor present when dismissing a worker to have evidence and to verify your account.
EmployEasily Legal Services is dedicated to providing business focused employment law advice and HR services solutions to UK businesses, specialising in all areas of employment law.
If you require any legal representation regarding a dismissal or if you require the advice of one of our experts regarding the establishment of your employment contract, or if an employee can be legally dismissed, contact us today using our online contact form.