SOSR is something of a catch-all, and covers dismissals that are not within the scope of the other four potentially fair reasons (disciplinary, capability, redundancy, resignation).
There is no further definition of SOSR in the Employment Rights Act (ERA), and no official guidance has been issued as to what exactly it can cover. It has been established that the reason must be substantial, i.e. not wholly frivolous or insignificant. As long as this standard is met, the question of whether or not the reason is sufficient to show a fair dismissal will depend on the facts of each case.
The nature of SOSR as a catch-all provision inevitably means that the dismissals which are caught under it are varied in nature. This variety means that there are no established ways of dealing with them and what is fair will always depend on the particular circumstances.
It is important to bear in mind the overriding ERA requirements for a fair dismissal. A decision to dismiss must be reasonable in all the circumstances, which is judged 'in accordance with equity and the substantial merits of the case. Even if the reason for dismissal apparently falls under an established category of SOSR, these fairness requirements must still be met.
Examples of dismissals could include:
- Reputation risk - this can occur where an employee has been accused of a criminal offence and the employer is concerned about the effect on its reputation of continuing to employ him or her;
- Expiry of a fixed-term contract - The non-renewal of the fixed-term contract of an employee recruited as maternity leave cover;
- Refusal to accept new terms - The dismissal and re-engagement of an employee to impose new contractual terms and conditions that the employee has refused to agree;
- Conflict of interest - Sometimes a commercial conflict of interest can arise during employment, such as where an employee has a close relationship with someone who works for a competitor.
- Personality Clash - A dismissal because of a personality clash between employees that makes it impossible for them to work together;
- The dismissal of an employee where there are concerns relating to the safeguarding of children or vulnerable adults, but where the employer does not have grounds for a misconduct dismissal.
For more information on SOSR or any other HR matter, feel free to give us a call.