5 Fair Reasons for Dismissing an Employee

  • December 05, 2023
Dismissing Employee

5 Fair Reasons For Dismissing An Employee

Employees play a pivotal role in the success of your company. Hiring and retaining top talent is always a top priority, but there may come a time when the difficult decision to terminate an employee has to be made. When this moment arrives, it's vital to understand what constitutes fair reasons for dismissal to ensure both ethical practices and legal compliance.

Fairness in dismissal is not just an ethical principle, it's a legal requirement. Wrongful termination can lead to costly legal disputes, damage to your company's reputation, and a negative impact on company culture. By ensuring that your reasons for dismissal are fair and justified, you remove these risks while promoting a culture of respect and fairness within your business.

In this guide, we'll talk you through five fair reasons for dismissing an employee. 

Reason 1: Poor performance

One of the most common reasons for employee dismissal is poor performance. When an employee consistently fails to meet job expectations it can negatively impact your company's productivity and success.

However, to ensure proper fairness in dismissing for poor performance, here are several steps to adhere to:

  • Clear expectations: Employees should have a clear understanding of their job roles, responsibilities, and performance expectations from the outset. This includes clear job descriptions and performance metrics.
  • Feedback and training: Timely and constructive feedback should be provided to the employee regarding their performance issues. Make sure you’ve offered opportunities for improvement and additional training to help them succeed.
  • Documentation: Ensure you’ve kept thorough records of performance evaluations, feedback sessions, and instances where expectations were not met. This documentation will be essential in justifying your decision if a dismissal becomes necessary.

Reason 2: Misconduct

Employee misconduct, such as insubordination, harassment, theft, or violation of company policies, is a valid reason for dismissal. In order to ensure fairness in dismissal due to misconduct, you need to consider the following factors:

  • Consistency: Ensure that the consequences for misconduct are consistent across all employees. Treating different employees differently for the same infractions can lead to legal issues.
  • Investigation: Conduct a thorough investigation into any alleged misconduct before making a decision. This investigation should be unbiased and follow established procedures.
  • Due Process: Provide the accused employee with an opportunity to respond to the allegations, present their side of the story, and offer evidence or witnesses in their defence.

Reason 3. Violation of policies

Employees are expected to adhere to company policies and safety regulations. When an employee repeatedly breaches these rules or fails to comply with essential workplace regulations, it may justify dismissal. 

Here are some factors to consider to ensure fairness is met in the case of policy violation:

  • Consistent Enforcement: Ensure that policies are consistently enforced across all employees.
  • Communication: Clearly communicate company policies to employees and provide regular reminders or training sessions to reinforce compliance.
  • Documentation: Maintain records of policy violations, including warnings or disciplinary actions taken.

Reason 4. Attendance issues

Excessive lateness and attendance issues can disrupt workplace productivity and team morale, making it a valid reason for dismissal. However, fairness in this context requires:

  • Consistent application: Apply attendance policies consistently across all employees.
  • Communication: Clearly communicate attendance policies, expectations, and consequences for non-compliance.
  • Documentation: Keep records of attendance issues and any discussions or warnings given to the employee regarding their attendance.

Reason 5. Redundancy or restructuring

Organisational changes, such as downsizing, restructuring, or the closure of a department, may lead to employee redundancies. In these cases, dismissal is a result of the employee's position rather than their performance. 

To ensure fairness when making dismissals caused by redundancies, consider the following:

  • Advance notice: Provide employees with advance notice of layoffs when possible, as required by law.
  • Severance packages: Offer appropriate severance packages, which may include financial compensation and continuation of company benefits.
  • Legal compliance: Ensure that redundancies are conducted following legal protocols and are not discriminatory.


Navigating the complexities of employee dismissal is a responsibility that should be approached with utmost care, fairness, and compliance with legal requirements. Employers should always strive to maintain open communication with employees, provide opportunities for improvement, and document performance issues consistently. 

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