Having a ‘Cabinet Reshuffle’ of Your Own? Three Things to Know

Published September 20 2021

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The Prime Minister’s Cabinet reshuffle has been hitting the headlines as some ministers such as Education Secretary Gavin Williamson have lost their positions and others have been moved to new roles. This may have led some employers to consider whether similar actions within their organisation could be beneficial. But how easy is this to achieve when it comes to employees?

We take a look below at three things employers may find it helpful to know.

Three Things

1. Dismissing employees – back to basics

If you wish to dismiss an employee in your organisation it’s important to bear in mind that you will usually need:

  • A potentially fair reason for doing so. There are five of these – conduct, capability, redundancy, statutory illegality or ‘some other substantial reason’ (more commonly known as SOSR). Bear in mind that it’s automatically unfair to dismiss an employee for certain reasons, such as for ‘whistleblowing’.
  • To act reasonably and appropriately. It’s not enough to have one of the potentially fair reasons for dismissal on its own. In most cases, the dismissal will also need to be fair in the circumstances of the case.
  • To follow a fair procedure (in most cases). What this procedure will entail will depend on the reason for which the employee may be dismissed, for example the procedure used to deal with a suspected case of gross misconduct is very different for that which will be used in a redundancy situation.

If you think you may need to dismiss an employee for any reason, it’s important to get it right. You should contact Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd for advice on the facts of your case.

2. Dismissing employees – are there any ‘short-cuts’?

Possibly, depending on the circumstances of the case. Two routes employers can find useful are ‘unsuitability dismissals’ and settlement agreements:

  • Unsuitability dismissals

Employees need two years continuity of service to claim ordinary unfair dismissal. If an employee doesn’t have sufficient service to bring this claim it can sometimes be quicker and easier to dismiss them, particularly as it may not be necessary to follow the usual process to do so, such as a disciplinary process.

Whilst this can be helpful for employers on occasions, it’s important not to get caught out if you are considering dismissing a short serving employee. Whilst they may not have sufficient service to claim ordinary unfair dismissal there are plenty of claims that don’t require any minimum length of service, such as discrimination, automatic unfair dismissal and breach of contract. In light of this, you should contact Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd for advice on the circumstances of your particular case before taking action if you are considering dismissing an employee.

  • Settlement agreements

If you haven’t heard of them before, in outline, a settlement agreement is a legally binding contract voluntarily entered into by an employer and an employee in which the employee agrees to refrain from bringing any claims set out in the agreement in exchange for a sum of money from the employer. As part of the agreement the employee’s employment is often ended.

Further general information regarding settlement agreements and Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd’s settlement agreement service can be found here https://kingfisherps.co.uk/could-a-settlement-agreement-help-your-organisation/.

If you are considering using a settlement agreement in your organisation, as a first step, please contact Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd for further information and to discuss your situation.

3. Demotions

Whilst demoting an employee may seem tempting it’s important to bear in mind that this can be a tricky area and employers shouldn’t usually demote an employee unilaterally. To do so could lead to an employee complaining to an employment tribunal about how they have been treated and in some cases the employee may resign and claim constructive unfair dismissal. There may be some situations where an employee would be prepared to agree to a lesser role, for example as part of a restructure where the alternative is redundancy. However, it’s always important to seek advice on the facts of your case from Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd before taking action.

If you have an employment law matter you would like assistance with, please do not hesitate to contact us as we are happy to help.