Sack someone on the spot? Can you?

It is always interesting when we read of a high profile person, such as Danny Baker on Radio 5 Live, getting the sack on the day, but can an employer really sack someone instantly?

Usually best not to sack someone instantly.

If Danny Baker was an employee I venture to suggest it was not a good idea to sack him on the day. Because, like all other employees he was entitled to a hearing and to be “heard in his own defence”. Instead, the BBC could suspend “instantly”, pending an investigation. Then there would need to be a hearing (for which he’d be entitled to 48 hours notice). At this hearing he would probably protest that he had not realised the “connotations” that might be implied by his Tweet. This would allow him to acknowledge his misjudgement and emphasise his apology. While that might not have been enough to save him, he would have put forward his defence.

Having been dismissed in the manner in which it appears he was then, as an employee, Danny can claim “unfair dismissal” (so long as he has 2 years service). Possibly he could claim “wrongful dismissal” if he has not been paid his notice pay under his employment contract.

So to dismiss someone on the spot you need “deep pockets”.

However before you protest that, as a TV licence payer, you don’t want poor Danny to get a penny we need to consider another possibility.

Maybe you can, in some cases

Many high profile presenters are not employees at all. That is because they may be self employed or “workers”. Unfortunately, employment status is a complex area and there have been high level disputes on this particular matter.

However, you may be able to sack a “worker” on the spot – what you might have to pay him or her depends on the terms of the contract.

Yes, sometimes you can, subject to provisos

Yes. Sometimes you can sack someone on the spot, that is if they have less than 2 years service – subject to some provisos covered in another blog this month. You may have to pay them notice. That could be nothing or a week; or more if the contract provides for more notice.

However, if you sack someone on the spot, and they are an employee with 2 years service, then it will cost you.

Malcolm Martin FCIPD

Author Human Resource Practice

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