Summary dismissal – what do you need to be aware of?


Summary Dismissal - What do you need to be aware of?

Your employee grabs money from the tip jar, fails to make a friend pay for a drink, threatens a co-worker, or simply does not show up. All good reasons for a legally valid summary dismissal, you might think; but not necessarily or at least not always.

 The law lists a number of examples of situations in which there ‘could be‘ grounds for summary dismissal. In other words, even if you have a reason like this, summary dismissal may be going too far. Conversely, if you have another reason, it does not automatically mean that you cannot summarily dismiss an employee. So, it depends on the circumstances, lawyers then say, and that is correct.

What does the law say?
A legally valid summary dismissal requires a situation so serious that you, as an employer, cannot be expected to keep employing the employee even for one more day. In principle, you should inform the employee of this immediately, or in any case as soon as possible.

However, consultation is possible and there is leeway to look into things
If you are unsure whether the situation is so serious that you may summarily dismiss the employee or if personal circumstances play a role in the decision to be made, you have a short time to consult your lawyer. In these cases, you may temporarily suspend the employee pending further action. This can also be done, for example, if you need to look into the situation. In any case, you must do this as soon as possible, otherwise you lose the necessary momentum for a valid summary dismissal.

Discuss things with the employee
Although this is not a separate requirement for a valid summary dismissal, the employee’s personal circumstances play a major role. So, discuss things with the employee and ask for their reaction. The employee’s reaction may provide grounds for not firing them. A difficult home situation, financial problems, the employee’s age and position in the employment market or other factors may also play a role and lead to the conclusion that summary dismissal is unreasonable.

Informing the employee of the summary dismissal
After you have carefully weighed up all the considerations and decide to summarily dismiss the employee, inform the employee of this as soon as possible and send a written confirmation explaining how you reached that decision.

Invalid summary dismissal
If you do not do this and the employee challenges the summary dismissal in the subdistrict court, you run the risk of the judge ruling the dismissal invalid, either because it was not clear to the employee why they were fired, or because you took too long to do so. The court will then reinstate the employment contract or award fair compensation to the employee. The employee may choose.

Last resort
In conclusion, summary dismissal has far-reaching consequences for the employee. As the employment is terminated with immediate effect, the employee no longer receives a salary and is not entitled to unemployment benefits either. So, even if you have clearly set out the reason for the summary dismissal and immediately confirmed it to the employee in writing, the court may find that the dismissal was not justified. The consequences for you as an employer are significant, because the employee will be back under contract with you and you will have to admit them to the workplace, or because you will have to pay fair compensation. If you disagree, you can appeal and submit your explanation to the court. These are often costly proceedings. It is therefore always advisable to consult a lawyer or legal professional before summarily dismissing an employee.

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About the author

Jasper Hoffstedde

+31 (0)6 280 24 654

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