Employment law recognises the fact that there may well be a reason that is sufficient enough to warrant the dismissal of an employee that does not fall into one of the potentially fair reasons for dismissal that are specifically set out in the Employment Rights Act 1996: those being conduct; capability; redundancy and contravention of a legal requirement (otherwise referred to as ‘statutory ban’). These other reasons will fall under the umbrella of ‘some other substantial reason’ and can, given a fair procedure, result in a finding of fair dismissal. This is commonly referred to as SOSR.
One branch of SOSR is ‘third party pressure’. This is often seen when a company employs staff but places them to work on contracts at other workplace eg cleaning or security. If working relationships between the employee and the business at which they have been placed deteriorate, the business will require the individual to be removed from the site and if there are no other contracts to place the employee on, his employer may need to consider dismissal. This would be potentially fair provided a thorough and fair procedure had been followed.
To ensure that you have done everything you can in this scenario you need to ascertain whether your client has the ‘authority’ to request the removal of your employee from their site. If you can, try and attempt to change your client’s mind or explore whether the employee can be removed to another site or location. Can you juggle your resources so the employee who they have had to remove can be allocated elsewhere?
If you can’t get all parties to agree to the changes, then dismissal is the last resort. You will need to be clear though and ensure that the request from the ‘third party’ cannot be construed as an effort or excuse for you to be able to dismiss straight away. If no other agreement can be made, then you need to document every step that you take – make sure that all correspondence with both the employee and client is made in writing. A good paper trail is vital to protect yourself and show that you took every step possible before coming to the final conclusion.