Dismissing an employee can be a difficult decision for an employer to make. Reasons why an employer may have to make the decision where it could be deemed as fair may be: where there is a breach of a statutory restriction, conduct, capability or qualifications, redundancy, and some other substantial reason (‘SOSR’). ‘Some other substantial reason’ is open to interpretation and employers may use it to justify dismissing an employee for a reason out with the other terms.
When it comes to SOSR, there is no set-in stone way to define what this could be. It is not in statute. When it comes to the employment tribunal, there is a two-part test to determine whether the dismissal has been made fairly on grounds of ‘some other substantial reason’. Firstly, there needs to be proof that the reason for the dismissal was fundamentally based on the SOSR. After this comes the test of reasonableness. This is where the employment tribunal will assess whether the workplace in question can justify that the dismissal came into the ‘range of reasonable responses’ available. The tribunal will analyse various details relating to the business to determine whether the dismissal was reasonable in the circumstances.
Some examples of situations where SOSR has been used as the main reason for dismissal include but are not limited to a conflict of interest; personality clashing between employees; a risk posed to the reputation of the organisation; and an employee not wishing to engage in new terms of employment. If one of these instances happens and it amounts to a dismissal under SOSR, the tribunal will still take all circumstances into consideration to determine whether the dismissal came into the range of reasonable responses available to the organisation. By determining whether the dismissal came into the range of reasonable responses, it will establish whether the dismissal was a reasonable course of action to take in the specific scenario.
It’s important to ensure that all due diligence has been taken and for avoidance of any doubt, always seek legal professional advice.