September 12, 2008

What the government believes...

And in the UK, based on government's lax response to a petition banning SOSR (Some Other Substantial Reason) basis for dismissal, staff who report being bullied or that others are being bullied face dismissal with no recourse, as it is perfectly legal to sack someone if their reporting of bullying 'causes' a breakdown in working relationships.

Here is the petition and their rather lame, but not unexpected response:-

“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Protect the rights of all workers in Britain by supporting the passing of legislation outlawing the dismissal of employees on the grounds of “some other substantial reason” (SOSR) in the absence of gross misconduct.”

Details of Petition:

“The EAT decision in Perkin v St. Georges NHS Trust, strengthens the right of employers to dismiss workers on the grounds of “Some Other Substantial Reason” (SOSR). This decision encourages employers to violate the basic British principles of fairness embodied in British employment and human rights law by discriminating freely, and by intimidating potential “whistleblowers” into silence, whilst citing the competent employee’s “difficult” personality. Employers have been able to claim that a “breakdown in working relationships, “caused by” the employee renders a dismissal substantially fair, even where the dismissal has been ruled by a court to have been procedurally unfair (e.g. where the employer is a public body and has violated the employee’s rights under Human Rights Act of 1998). We therefore call for legislation that would remove the vague and easily abused “SOSR” basis for dismissal while retaining the right to dismiss an employee on the grounds of gross misconduct.”

The Government’s response:

Under employment law, dismissal must be for a valid reason and fairly carried out - the five potentially valid reasons are; capability, conduct, redundancy, retirement, that continued employment would breach a statutory requirement. In addition, the law allows for ‘some other substantial reason’, where an employer has a good reason for dismissing an employee which is not one of these five. The legislation has been in force for some thirty years and there is extensive case law to guide the tribunals on what constitutes ‘some other substantial reason’. The Government does not believe that SOSR permits employers to act unfairly.



Anonymous said...

SORS is a crucial aspect to explore - it is certainly something that I am very aware of in my dealings at work.

SORS silences those who wish to raise issues in relation to work place bullying.

It would be interesting to hear from those who have been dismissed for SORS and to research this aspect of the law.

Aphra Behn

Anonymous said...

Often, dismissals occur for reasons others than those officially stated. For example, a supervisor might have a disliking for a certain subordinate and, in order to be rid of that person, sets arbitrary standards which most definitely cannot be met. When that happens, one has a justification for sacking, though one which has been conveniently invented.