The Employment Appeal Tribunal has held, in the recent case of Zimmer v Brezan, that a letter inviting an employee to a disciplinary meeting was insufficient, as a “Step 1 letter”, because it did not inform the employee that he was at risk of dismissal. His dismissal was therefore automatically unfair.
An email was sent inviting the employee, Mr Brezan, to attend a meeting to discuss the mileage and expenses claims which he had submitted. The email did not refer to misconduct or gross misconduct and neither did it identify a single transaction which was under consideration. After further meetings Mr Brezan was dismissed.
HHJ Burke stated that “unless the employee is enabled to understand from the Step 1 letter that he is at risk of dismissal the purpose of the Step 1 letter in a dismissal case cannot properly be achieved.”
It is vitally important therefore that if an employer is holding a disciplinary meeting and is considering sanctions up to and including dismissal that this is explicitly made clear in the Step 1 letter.