Dismissing Staff

Reassurance that you're not taking a big risk in hiring a recent graduate

We are not for a moment suggesting that we want more employees dismissed. Instead, we’re trying to ensure that employers don’t overlook great prospective graduate employees because they are worried about how much risk they are assuming. In order to explain exactly what is involved with probationary periods, internships and employees up to the two-year mark, we have outlined the answers to some key questions.

Internships and probationary periods

The difference between an internship and a probation period is in the messaging to your new hire. However, there is no material difference between the two legally. Where internships are concerned, there is a clear understanding that the role will last for a set period of time, at the end of which, there is the chance for the employer to offer a permanent position if they wish to do so. With a probationary period, there is an expectation that the position will become permanent once the employee has completed their probation. The length of a probationary period is entirely up to the employer, however, 3 months is often seen as appropriate.

In both cases, it is entirely at the employer’s discretion as to whether or not to keep the hire in employment, this gives you a chance to see what a recent graduate could add to your business without committing to offering them a full time, permanent position.


Even after the probationary period, an employee may be dismissed, providing you meet some relatively simple and reasonable criteria. You are able to dismiss an employee if:

  • They’re incapable of doing their job to the required standard.
  • They’re capable but unwilling to do their job properly.
  • They’ve committed some form of misconduct.

If you feel as though you may need to dismiss an employee, there’s no specific process that you must follow, providing you act reasonably and fairly. If the dismissal is related to a capability issue, as a result of the employee's health, you should aim to help the individual as much as you can, to increase their chances of remaining in their role, before you make the final decision to dismiss them.

Once an employee has been with you for two years (or more), the dismissal process changes slightly:

  • The employee now has the right to claim unfair dismissal.
  • The employee is able to claim statutory redundancy pay if they are dismissed due to redundancy.
  • The employee can also request a written reason for their dismissal.
  • However, are still entitled to dismiss an employee if there is a fair reason to do so.

    Notice periods

    The notice period for both you and your employee should be written into the contract of employment, this must then be adhered to. However, there are occasions where the employee can be immediately dismissed, for example, if they have been violent.

    Want more advice about dismissal? Check out the links below: