The 12 Employment Law Questions of Christmas: Day 12

On the twelfth day of Christmas, HR asked with heavy hearts “should we delay dismissing an employee until the New Year starts?"

After much deliberation, they decided … no

Dealing with redundancies or other dismissals is challenging at any time of the year, never mind in the run up to Christmas when everyone is already feeling the pinch of their purse strings whilst trying to stay afloat with festive joy.

Although it may be tempting to try and delay dismissals until after the Christmas period, in many cases this is likely to only make things worse. As such, sometimes it is necessary to be the Grinch before Christmas.

There is no legal requirement to delay redundancies or other dismissals until after Christmas. If, having completed an investigation or performance management process, there is sufficient evidence to proceed to a disciplinary or capability hearing, then it is appropriate to schedule that hearing on the earliest convenient date, even if that is shortly before Christmas. Indeed, to delay could in some situations undermine the fairness of the process being followed.

Similarly, once a redundancy proposal is formulated, employers should begin consultation as soon as possible. Whilst it is not suggested that organisations should announce redundancies or carry out mass dismissals on Christmas Eve (in fact to do so may bring reputational risk), where an organisation knows that dismissals are imminent during the festive period, employees should be put on notice as to what is happening as soon as possible and fully consulted with despite the approaching holiday season. In fact, employees are likely to feel more aggrieved if they have just celebrated an expensive festive period only to find out that from January, they are at risk of redundancy with potentially no income to rely upon in the near future. Employees are more likely to appreciate having accurate information to budget with early on. Further, delaying the process will only increase the uncertainty of their position in turn causing stress and anxiety and again could undermine the fairness of any resultant dismissals.

Whatever decision an organisation makes, is likely to not be right for everyone. However, if an organisation decides not to dismiss before Christmas, they should at least warn potentially affected employees of any proposals or next steps so that they have a clear idea of the direction they are heading and what the new year may hold.


This information is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. Please contact us for specific advice on your circumstances. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.



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