Key points
§  Add a note hereSection 98 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 allows that there will be occasions when it may be fair to dismiss an employee for reasons other than those relating to his (or her) capability, qualifications, conduct, redundancy, or the illegality of continued employment.
§  Add a note hereHowever, whether a dismissal for 'some other substantial reason' was fair or unfair will depend on whether, in the circumstances (including the size and administrative resources of his business), the employer had acted reasonably or unreasonably in treating that reason as a legitimate reason for dismissing the employee in question (ibid. section 98(l)(b)).
Add a note hereBusiness reorganisation
§  Add a note hereFor example, an employer may need to restructure or reorganise his (or her) business in the interests of efficiency, profitability or survival. This could involve a change in working methods and related manpower arrangements. At such a time, the employer would ordinarily discuss his problems and his proposals with employees or their representatives. However, at the end of the day, the decision must be his. The employment tribunals will not deny an employer's prerogative to manage his business as best he can. If an employer's proposals meet with resistance in some quarters, or if one or more employees are totally uncompromising in their attitudes, he may be left with no other alternative but to dismiss those employees. In Ellis v Brighton Cooperative Society [1976] IRLR 419, a foreman who refused to accept new working methods involving longer working hours and more onerous duties was held to have been fairly dismissed notwithstanding that he was not contractually bound to go along with those changes.
Add a note herePressure from dissatisfied clients
§  Add a note hereIn Scott Packing and Warehousing Company limited v Patterson [1978] IRLR 167, an employee was dismissed when a major client threatened to withhold further contracts unless that employee was taken off an existing contract. The client suspected the employee of pilfering. The Employment Appeal Tribunal held that pressure of this type amounted to 'some other substantial reason' to dismiss, but questioned the employer 's 'reasonableness' in not considering the possibility of finding another job for the employee elsewhere within his organisation.
Add a note hereClashes of personality
§  Add a note hereAn employee who causes tension and disharmony amongst fellow employees could also be a candidate for dismissal. Thus, in Treganowan v Robert Knee & Company Limited [1975] IRLR 247, an employee who boasted of her sexual exploits, and caused disharmony amongst her fellow employees, was adjudged to have been fairly dismissed for 'some other substantial reason'.
Add a note hereConfidential information
§  Add a note hereIn Skyrail Oceanic Limited t/a Cosmos Tours v Coleman [1978] IRLR 226, an employee was dismissed when it became known that she was to marry an employee of a rival travel operator. Both employers had met to discuss the possibility of confidential information being divulged. The decision was taken to dismiss the wife on the premise that the husband was the breadwinner. The Employment Appeal Tribunal held that her employer had been justifiably concerned about the possible risks to his business interests and that her dismissal was for 'some other substantial reason'. However, he had acted unreasonably in not forewarning the employee of the likelihood of dismissal.
Add a note hereDismissing a replacement employee
§  Add a note hereSection 106 of the 1996 Act deals with the situation confronting an employer who recruits a 'temporary' employee specifically to take on the work of one of his permanent employees who is either absent from work on maternity leave or who has been suspended from work on maternity or medical grounds (as provided by ibid. sections 64 and 66).
§  Add a note hereIn such circumstances, the dismissal of the replacement employee will be treated as having been 'for a substantial reason of a kind such as to justify the dismissal of an employee holding the position which that employee held', if:
o    Add a note herewhen engaging or recruiting the temporary employee, the employer made it clear to him (or her) in writing that he would be dismissed as soon as the employee he was replacing returned to work after maternity leave or resumed his (or her) normal duties at the end of the period of suspension.
Add a note hereShould the matter go before an employment tribunal (on a complaint by the 'temporary' or replacement employee that he or she had been unfairly dismissed), the employer will nonetheless need to satisfy the tribunal that he had acted reasonably and fairly in dismissing that employee when the permanent employee returned to work (ibid. sections 106(4) and 98(4)).
Add a note hereComplaint to an employment tribunal
§  Add a note hereAn employee does not ordinarily qualify to pursue a complaint of unfair dismissal unless he (or she) has been continuously employed for one year or more at the effective date of termination of his (or her) contract of employment. He or she must also have been under normal retiring age at that time. If the employee's complaint is upheld, the employer will be ordered either to reinstate or re-engage the employee and/or to pay an award of compensation