Losing your job – especially when you had no plans to leave your current employment – can come as a shock and have a significant financial impact.
One aspect of dismissal that can particularly create conflict is how carefully the dismissal itself is handled, and in some cases employers keen to avoid confrontation might opt for a less ‘professional’ method of informing the employee, such as text message or even social media.
But is it legal to do this? It’s probably reasonable to suggest that speaking face to face, in writing or via a telephone call is all preferable to an SMS or online direct message, but where does the law stand on this?
Is it legal to be sacked?
The more important question is whether the dismissal is legal at all, regardless of the method used – and Bray & Bray advise on many disputes where the method used amounts to an unfair dismissal.
Assuming it is reasonable to dismiss the employee at all, their contract of employment might specify a notice period, or there may be a statutory notice period to observe other procedures must also be followed.
Employees are also generally entitled to a full explanation of why they are being dismissed, and some contract terms might specify that notice will be given in writing, as opposed to verbally or electronically.
What if you’re sacked by text message?
Assuming the dismissal itself is fair, employees are still entitled to an explanation, and in most cases the employer should follow a reasonable disciplinary process before dismissing an employee.
That means it’s reasonable to expect warnings in writing, meetings to discuss the employee’s conduct, and a final warning before they are dismissed.
In past cases, mass sackings via text message are sometimes used where the employer has become insolvent, rather than in individual cases of poor conduct.
Have you been unfairly dismissed by SMS?
If you think you’ve been unfairly sacked by SMS, ask yourself which of these is the more accurate description of what happened:
- You received an SMS asking you to call your employer or attend a meeting, at which you were informed of your dismissal and given a reason why.
- You received an SMS to tell you that you have been sacked, with no warnings, meetings or explanation.
The second option is quite clearly much less reasonable and much more likely to lead to a successful claim of unfair dismissal, which Bray & Bray employment solicitors may be able to help you pursue.
You can contact our offices on the following numbers, and we will be happy to help you decide if you have a valid claim for unfair dismissal by text message:
Leicester call us on 0116 254 8871.
Hinckley call us on 01455 639 900.
Market Harborough call us on 01858 467 181.
Corby call us on 01536 851050.