Given the significant increase in litigation since the abolition of Tribunal Fees, we share our Practitioner’s insights on how to avoid or manage Tribunal litigation. This month, we discuss the importance of a well drafted dismissal letter.
During my very first few weeks in the job, a wise man (Read: Rhodri) told me to “make your letter the only one the Tribunal Judge needs to read”. As much as it pains me to admit this, he is right. We see all too often a client who has shied away from giving the warts and all account in a dismissal letter to avoid upsetting the employee any further. Unfortunately, when it comes to a dismissal letter, honesty really is the best policy. The burden is on you, the Employer, to establish a fair reason for the dismissal. You therefore need to be clear and articulate what the reason was so that, if necessary, you can demonstrate that this was the reason that led you to the decision to terminate the employment. When putting the letter together, remember that this should reflect your decision making process.
You need to include the allegation, the evidence that you heard (you can summarise, but be sure that you don’t omit the pertinent points in doing so) and any mitigation put forwards. Tribunals also look for clear evidence that you considered actions short of dismissal (such as written warnings). You then need to deliver the outcome and the reason for the decision. If, once finished, you can read your letter in isolation and understand the background and the rationale, you’re done!