There is No Two year Dismissal Fairy

This may disappoint some of you, but there is no magic fairy dust when it comes to dismissing staff as they approach two years’ service. If you’ve completed your processes properly, through recruitment, probation and ongoing management, you should have got rid of underperformers early on, leaving you to manage a team of motivated individuals. It’s not really acceptable to allow employees to drift along and then suddenly decide you need to exit them as the two year deadline for accruing employment rights looms; though you might be surprised at how often this happens.

There simply isn’t any substitute for good old performance management, and whilst this may involve some difficult conversations or tough decisions, it really is the only way you are going to sustain a productive workforce and therefore a profitable business.

It’s technically true that you can just let a member of staff go up until they have been employed for two years, but doing this as a kind of last resort just isn’t good practice and is potentially quite dangerous.

To begin with, the two years includes any notice period, so if you have one or three months’ notice to give, you need to take this into account. Even then, if the dismissal is cynically close to the two years, this may be dimly viewed if the case were to go to Tribunal.

You’ll also need to make sure you haven’t crossed any lines in terms of discrimination as this could easily be turned against you. Someone’s sexuality for example many not become apparent until they have been employed for some time and whilst it shouldn’t make a difference it may be hard to prove that it wasn’t an influencing factor in your reason to dismiss.

You also risk getting a reputation for being a bad employer. Chances are, any good workers you have are already disgruntled by having to carry a poor performer because you have failed to deal with them. Not only might you struggle to retain your good staff, but you may find it hard to recruit anyone of a decent calibre to replace them, sending you into a downward spiral.

Maintaining a high performing team isn’t easy but some of those difficult decisions and conversations are part of the territory and the price we pay for success.

We have training courses designed to help you be better at performance management and at the moment they are funded and accessible for FREE for businesses in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire. Call us to discover more on 01451 331331 or e-mail

23 February 2018, 13:48