Summary Dismissal: What you need to know

UK Immigration Blog

Employers should exercise extreme caution when terminating employees without providing them with notice or payment instead of notice, if for no other reason than to reduce the likelihood of a claim of unfair or wrongful summary dismissal.

In this piece, we’ll take a look at the rules and regulations surrounding summary dismissal and offer some helpful pointers on how to carry them out in a way that’s both legal and fair.

What Is a Summary Dismissal of Employment?

Employees who have committed serious misconduct may be subject to summary dismissal, also known as instant dismissal or summary termination. Summarily dismissal is a termination of employment that does not require notice or payment instead of notice to the employee.

It’s crucial to spell out the grounds for dismissal summarily in the employee handbook and the employment contract. Employees could claim they had no idea their actions would lead to termination if these precautions weren’t taken.

Examples of Summarily Dismissal

The legal definition of “gross misconduct” may be nebulous. The UK government provides some of the most common reasons for termination: theft, gross negligence, serious insubordination, and physical violence.

If someone has engaged in multiple forms of misconduct over time, this can also be considered gross misconduct. It was the same as in the University Hospital of Mbubaegbu v. Homerton NHS Foundation Trust. A from Homerton University Hospital followed patient safety concerns related to an orthopedic surgeon’s reliance on a specific pattern of behavior. A worker could blame their actions on a lack of knowledge. That’s why every company needs a handbook outlining the laws and the developments of breaking them. A dismissal summary clause should also be included, outlining the specific behaviors resulting in termination. Include them in the employment agreement

When is it reasonable to terminate an employee’s employment immediately?

Any other reason that requires the employee’s removal from the company immediately is not grounds for dismissal summary. It includes but is not limited to acts of misconduct. Notification requirements are stricter for employees who are let go due to misconduct. Organizations must take caution when engaging in the dismissed summary. They should also ensure they follow the law or risk being fined by an employment tribunal for unfair work dismissal.

Fair Dismissal: A Reference Manual

To terminate an employee legally, you must have a valid reason to do so. Some valid grounds for termination could be:

  • Conduct
  • Scalability 
  • Redundancy

Any other significant reason that could be considered fair, such as the loss of a driver’s license due to a statutory requirement that would prevent the employee from continuing

If an employee is let go for “some other substantial reason,” it could be because they were hired temporarily to fill in for someone out sick or on maternity leave. For such termination to be legal, you must have informed the replacement worker that this position was only temporary from the start of their employment. You must also behave reasonably and fairly throughout the dismissal process for it to be considered fair.

Cause for Summary Dismissal

Summary Dismissal
Summary Dismissal

An employee can be terminated without cause for many legitimate reasons. There are some common examples among many others:

  • Getting high at work or otherwise affecting one’s performance
  • Having a blatant disinterest in fitness and safety laws
  • Discriminating against, harassing, or physically assaulting another worker, client, or customer
  • Vandalizing Company Premises
  • Theft of confidential business, client, or customer data
  • Creating a rival company
  • Acts of dishonesty, such as theft, bribery, fraud, or sabotage, are committed either on behalf of or in opposition to the company.
  • High levels of disobedience

When it comes to employment law, what are some of the potential problems that could arise from a dismissed summary?

Wrongful dismissal

When an employer fires an employee without providing adequate notice, the employee may pursue a wrongful dismissal claim under the law.

In the event of termination, employees are usually entitled to the greater of either the statutory minimum of two weeks’ pay, It can be included that the contractual minimum of the number of weeks’ pay specified in the employee’s contract. Any employee, regardless of tenure, can file a claim for breach of contract for failure to provide notice.

A repudiatory violation (appalling misconduct) by an employee, on the other hand, would allow the employer to remove the worker’s job instantly.

Unjustified Dismissal

Employees with two years of service or more may file a claim for ordinary unfair work dismissal if they are terminated in a summary manner.

The Employment Tribunal will consider the following in the case of a claim of ordinary unfair dismissal:

  • Was there a justification for the firing? In this case, the employee’s alleged gross misconduct would constitute conduct, making it accurate.
  • How did the disciplinary procedure handle the potentially justifiable reason for dismissal?

 It’s also important to know whether or not the imposed sanction is within a reasonable response range, considering any mitigating evidence.

It should be noted that a fair work summary dismissal may be unjust and inappropriate in some cases. Something can be unlawful without being unfair. It is in case the behavior isn’t considered severe enough to constitute a repudiatory breach that calls for immediate termination. The employer must decide early on and throughout the process whether the allegations are gross or less severe misconduct that can be handled through the warning process.

Dismissal with Prejudice

Summarily Dismissal
Summarily Dismissal

Even in cases where an instant dismissal without due process appears to be the only option, due process must be followed.

The ‘instant’ dismissal element of the firing may be less dismissed on the spot’ than you notice on TV due to the span of the fair procedure.

An employee judiciary can only find you regretful of unfair dismissal if you follow a proper technique.

This is how your process should go:

  • It should be made clear whether or not the employee will be suspended.
  • The time has come to seek proof that the allegation is true.
  • Schedule a disciplinary hearing with the worker.
  • You should have a hearing.
  • Inquire of any potential eyewitnesses.
  • Make your choice.

If your employee is suspended, you should keep them on full pay unless the contract specifies otherwise.

Make sure everyone understands that a suspension isn’t a punishment.

Inform them of the company’s appeals process and their right to use it if they disagree with a decision.

Inform your employees of the necessary steps.

If you want things to run smoothly in your company, you must lay out some ground rules and organize them into policies. The next step is to give each employee a written copy of the company’s guidelines.

Finally, distribute copies of a fair procedure to be followed in case of a rule violation. Include any potential consequences.

Definition of Summary Dismissal vs. Dismissal

In the absence of gross misconduct, redundancy, or violating a statutory restriction, a dismissal summarily for “some other substantial reason” is considered the cause. The correct procedure must be followed by the employee. The employee must either receive the contractual notice due to them or be paid instead of such notice.

No notification or compensation rather than the memorandum is demanded in dismissing the Summary. Fair Dismissals due to poor performance or illness, for instance, may necessitate a shorter procedure. But the company still needs a valid reason and a fair procedure for firing the employee.

What are the contents of the summary dismissal Notice?

If a decision is made to terminate an employee without cause, written notification of the termination date and the reasons for the termination must be delivered to the worker.

But the termination letter is also your chance to explain and document the rationale behind your decision to quit without a memorandum.

The following are illustrations of what should be contained in a letter of summary dismissal:

  • The decision to remove employment without cause and an explanation that the termination is effective immediately and without pay instead of notice.
  • Justification for why termination was the best option available, specifically, how the employee’s actions broke your trust and confidence so that it can never be repaired.
  • Reconfirm their last day of employment with you and the key to any extraordinary cases.
  • Repeating that the employee is yet obligated to abide by any after-fired Sercets and commitments and limited covenants summarised in the job agreement.
  • The specifics of the severe misconduct that led to the fair dismissal, including the nature of the offense, the steps taken to investigate it, and the results of any ensuing disciplinary hearing.
  • Laying out the employee’s appeals process. It includes who they should contact and by when in the event they disagree with this decision.

Which Forms of Termination Are There?

We’ve covered instant dismissal already, but other forms of termination exist. Here is a brief introduction:

  • Just cause for discharge: Redundancy, lack of qualifications, inability, or poor behavior are all possible justifications.
  • Whenever an employee leaves without being formally fired but does so because they feel “pushed out” by their employer, this is known as constructive dismissal. Bullying, Harassment, and removing benefits or dues are all workplace violence.
  • Unfair dismissal happens when an employee is let go without a valid reason, especially without prior warnings or disciplinary actions.
  • To terminate an employee wrongfully, an employer must have violated the employment contract terms in the months following the termination.
  • When an employee voluntarily requests to be let go due to redundancy, this is called voluntary redundancy. Thanks to this, employees won’t have to sit around wondering if they’ll be laid off.

What should be done if an employee challenges a summary decision?

If an employee files an appeal, you must promptly investigate their claims, gather any new evidence they may have, and convene an appeal panel. The workers should be sent a documented invitation to the appointment and informed that they might bring a coworker or representative from their union. Decisions should be communicated in writing within a reasonable time frame, and it should be made clear that these are the final rulings. If you decide to rescind your dismissal, you’ll need to figure out how much the worker is owed in back pay and then reinstate them, telling them that their employment continues as if it had been from the day they were hired.

The Expenses of a Quick Dismissal

An employee may be awarded as much as £25,000 in damages. It is in case an employment tribunal rules that their instant dismissal was unfair or wrongful and that they were terminated in violation of the law. The company will be responsible for paying this amount. There is no cap on compensation, so the amount could be higher if a claim for unfair or unlawful dismissal goes to court.


It’s possible that getting fired without a formal hearing is more complicated than it seems at first glance. Even if gross misconduct has been committed, its circumstances and facts must be thoroughly investigated before any disciplinary action is taken. The process followed and the measures taken must be reasonable. In the absence of a single act of gross misconduct or a series of related acts of misconduct, summarily dismissed may be appropriate in some cases. Don’t hesitate to consult our employment lawyers if you need any assistance.


What are the distinctions between summary and regular dismissal?

The main difference between dismissal and summary dismissal is that dismissal requires written notice and pay in lieu, while summary dismissal is immediate and does not require any notice.

Is there any justification for a summary dismissal?

If an employee is found regretful of gross mischief after an investigation and hearing, the employer can fire the employee from the job spontaneously. The employee may claim unfair or unlawful dismissal if the hearing is not open and fair.

For what reasons for summary dismissal?

Usually, instant dismissal with little or no notice follows seriously inappropriate behavior. The employee’s actions have gone so far as to violate the terms of their employment agreement directly. Theft, workplace harassment, and physical assault are all possible examples.

How Serious Is It to Be Fired Instantaneously?

To put it briefly, yes. Only in extreme cases of bad behavior can an employee be fired immediately.

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Robert Windham
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VisaHelpUK - UK Immigration and Visa Application Advice Service
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