FARRER & Co has produced a guide to the prickly issue of disciplining and firing employees following a sharp rise in the number of unfair dismissal claims reaching the courts.

Disciplining and Dismissing Employees – A Guide for Managers is aimed at line managers and advises how to deal with employees without giving cause for a unfair dismissal claim.

The 16-page booklet offers a basic guide to the law on unfair dismissal, disciplinary procedures and interviews, how to handle special cases and the conduct of Industrial Tribunal hearings.

Farrers solicitor David Smellie says one of reasons the number of claims has increased so dramatically is because of the removal of the five-year qualifying period for part-time workers.

“The number of claims rose to around 130,00 last year compared with 50,000 three years ago,” he said. “The pool of people who might bring claims is that much greater because of the lifting of the threshold.”

Smellie said the guide could help reduce claims by alerting employers to the danger of committing the worst mistake when disciplining employees – that of not following their own dismissal procedure.

“Failing to follow your own procedure is fatal and always results in a finding of unfair dismissal. Proper employment procedures operated fairly will reduce the likelihood of industrial tribunal claims. “