Mr Blair's advice was “ill-considered'

Few will disagree with the Prime Minister's opinion of English football hooligans.

Mr Blair's appeal for employers to sack employees convicted of hooliganism was an understandable – but ill-considered – response, given that such action by employers may give rise to claims of unfair dismissal by employees with two or more years' continuous employment.

Employees cannot be automatically dismissed for a criminal conviction gained outside the workplace.

A fair employer must consider the nature of the offence, the employee's job remit, the position of the employee and the likely effect of the conviction on the employer, his other staff and customers.

If an employer can demonstrate that the employee has damaged its reputation or that staff are unwilling to work with the offender, then a dismissal may be fair.

An employer must also ensure that the terms of any disciplinary procedure are strictly observed and that a fair inquiry is undertaken before a decision is reached.

It is ironic that the Prime Minister should express such views while the Government is considering the abolition of the cap on compensation awards for unfair dismissal and the reduction of the qualification period for employees.

In the future Mr Blair may do better to consult one Cherie Booth QC before commenting on employment-related issues.