Hong Kong: When can an employer dismiss summarily?

Employers have a range of options at their disposal for dealing with disciplinary matters, from informal verbal warnings through to summary dismissal (i.e. dismissal without notice or payment in lieu). Summary dismissal is not something which should be taken lightly, as it is not always easy for managers and HR professionals to know where a court will draw the line and treat an employee’s conduct as serious enough to warrant summary dismissal. A recent decision is a timely reminder that the consequences of getting this decision wrong can be significant for the employer.

Continue reading

UK: Contracts – need for clear drafting on summary dismissal and flexi-hours

Two recent cases have highlighted the importance of clear drafting in employment contracts. In Robert Bates Wrekin Landscapes v Knight the contract contained a provision allowing for summary dismissal for breach of a customer's security rules. The EAT ruled that this clause should be construed as only applying where the breach of security rules was deliberate. Summary dismissal for minor or inadvertent breaches would only be lawful if the provision had expressly referred to this type of breach. Continue reading

Hong Kong: The law relating to termination of employment contracts

Subject to certain exceptions, employers and employees in Hong Kong may terminate their employment relationship by providing the other with requisite notice of the termination, or by making a payment in lieu of such notice.

Any decision to dismiss an employee must be based on one of the five broad reasons cited in the Employment Ordinance, which include the employee’s conduct, capability or qualifications, or any other reason of substance. Upon dismissal, an employee is entitled to be paid for certain accrued but unused contractual entitlements, such as annual leave, end of year payments and a long service payment. Continue reading

Hong Kong: Employers must be well primed before saying ‘you’re fired’

Given the absence in Hong Kong of an unfair dismissal regime similar to that which exists, for example, in the UK and Australia, the termination of an employment contract in Hong Kong is considered by many to be relatively straightforward. Despite this, Hong Kong employers should be mindful of the laws which govern dismissals, so as to avoid liability for unreasonable or unlawful terminations.

Subject to certain exceptions, under the Employment Ordinance (EO) both employers and employees may terminate their employment relationship by providing the other with requisite notice of the termination, or by making a payment in lieu of such notice (calculated by reference to the employees average salary). The EO stipulates the minimum length of notice for various types of employment contract, but parties are free to agree on longer notice periods. Continue reading

UK: Termination – effective from date resignation letter received at employer

Where an employee sends a letter resigning with immediate effect, the effective date of termination (for calculating tribunal claims limits and qualifying service) is the date on which the information is communicated to the employer.

This will be the date on which a letter is opened and date-stamped, whether or not any named addressee has read the letter. In contrast, the effective date where an employer sends a summary dismissal letter is the date the employee reads or has a reasonably opportunity to read the letter. (Horwood v Lincolnshire County Council, EAT)