CMS Expert Guide to Dismissals

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1. Dismissal of employees

1.1 Reasons for dismissal

An employee may give notice of termination without providing cause. An employer, on the other hand, is only permitted to give notice of termination for one of the reasons explicitly stated in the Labour Code, which are as follows:

  1. organisational reasons – the employer’s enterprise shuts down or relocates, or the employee is made redundant; or
  2. health reasons − the employee no longer has the capacity to carry out his present work in a satisfactory manner; this must be confirmed with a medical certificate issued by the occupational medical services provider or under a ruling of the competent administrative agency having duly reviewed the medical certificate; or
  3. an employee no longer meets the requirements outlined for the work they are carrying out; or
  4. there are reasons for immediate termination of the employment relationship − the employee has committed a gross breach of duty or has been lawfully sentenced to prison for a crime; or
  5. the employee has seriously, or less seriously but repeatedly, breached a statutory duty relating to their work performance; or
  6. the employee breaches their obligation to observe the prescribed regime of an insured person being temporarily unfit for work in the first 14 calendar days of temporary incapacity for work due to sickness in an especially gross manner.

A claim for unfair dismissal can be made if the reason for dismissal was not one of a number of ‘fair reasons’ (e.g. conduct, capability, "some other substantial reason", statutory ban or redundancy).

Most employees need a particular length of service to bring a claim for unfair dismissal. At present this is two years’ service. However, all employees can bring a claim for unfair dismissal if the reason for dismissal is deemed to make the dismissal automatically unfair (e.g. for whistleblowing or for family reasons such as dismissals for reasons connected to pregnancy, parental leave, or requests for flexible working).

Even if the dismissal is deemed to be for a fair reason, to avoid a successful claim for unfair dismissal the employer must still follow a fair procedure and act reasonably in dismissing the employee.

If the reason for the dismissal involves discrimination against the employee (because of a protected characteristic such as sex, race, age or disability), employees may make a discrimination claim irrespective of their length of service.

Employees with two years of service have the right to request a written statement of reasons for dismissal. Employers must provide the statement within 14 days of the request.

Irrespective of length of service, employees dismissed during pregnancy or statutory maternity or adoption leave are automatically entitled to a written statement of reasons for dismissal without having to request it.

1.2 Form

Written form is necessary; must be delivered to the other party (both employer and employee may terminate the employment relationship by notice of termination). Under certain circumstances a fiction of delivery applies (e.g. if the employee refuses to accept the notice when it is delivered personally to them or when delivered by a postal worker). Under specific and strict conditions, it is also possible to deliver the termination documents electronically.

Employees may be dismissed orally or in writing. In misconduct and capability dismissals the ACAS Code of Practice states that the employee should be invited to attend a meeting to explain their version of events. A letter should then be sent to confirm the reason for the dismissal and the date of dismissal in writing to avoid any dispute over the effective date of termination. A right of appeal should be offered. Failure by the employer to follow the Code of Practice does not give an employee a remedy for breach. However in the event that an unfair dismissal claim is successful and there has been non-compliance with the Code the tribunal has the power to increase the award of compensation by up to 25%.

1.3 Notice period

The statutory minimum notice period is set at two months, the period starting on the first day of the month after the month in which the notice of termination was delivered. 

It is possible to agree upon a probationary period of a maximum of three months (six months for managerial employees) with no statutory notice period. There is no notice period in cases of immediate termination of the employment relationship (i.e. in particular if an employee has committed a gross breach of duty or has been lawfully sentenced to prison for a crime).

There is a statutory minimum notice period of between one and 12 weeks, dependent on length of service.

The contract of employment can provide for a longer notice period. Failure by the employer to comply with the contractual notice period can result in a claim for ‘wrongful dismissal’.

1.4 Involvement of works council

No involvement in termination process except in collective redundancies.

No general legal requirement for involvement, but staff forums may be involved in the case of collective redundancies (see below).

1.5 Involvement of a union

Employer must discuss in advance any notices of termination and any immediate termination of the employment relationship with the trade union. Trade union approval is only required where the employee is a trade union officer. Such approval can be substituted by a court decision if the approval was withheld and the employer cannot be justifiably required to continue employing the trade union officer.

No involvement normally other than in the case of collective redundancies (see below) or if the employee exercises their right to be accompanied by an appropriate trade union representative to a disciplinary meeting.

1.6 Approval of state authorities necessary

Approval of the state authorities is not required. The Labour Office need only be notified of a collective redundancy or the dismissal of a disabled person or of an employee who is not a Czech citizen.

Not necessary.

1.7 Collective redundancies

Collective redundancies are defined as dismissals within a 30-day period of:

  1. more than ten employees in an establishment of 20 − 100 employees; or
  2. 10% or more of the employees in an establishment of 101 − 300 employees; or
  3. at least 30 employees in an establishment of 300 or more employees. The total number of employees also includes those employees whose employment relationship was terminated by agreement between the employee and the employer based on the same grounds for which other employees are being dismissed, if at least 5 employees were dismissed by notice of termination.

The employer must inform the works council and trade union (or directly affected employees if there is no works council or trade union) of its intentions at least 30 days prior to giving notice of termination, and must enter into negotiations to reach a compromise or reduce the number of affected employees, etc.

The employer must simultaneously inform the Labour Office in writing:

  1. that it has discussed the collective redundancies and its implications (i.e. the later results of these discussions) with the trade union, works council or affected employees; and
  2. of the actions it has taken in cooperation with the trade union / works council in relation to the collective redundancies; and
  3. of the number, characteristics, professional qualification, etc. of the employees to be made redundant.

If 20 or more employees are proposed to be made redundant at one "establishment" within a period of 90 days or less, consultation with employee representatives (who may be trade union representatives) must begin at least 30 days (or 45 days if 100 or more employees are to be made redundant) before the first dismissal takes effect.

Additionally, employers are obliged to notify the Secretary of State (for Business Innovation and Skills) where they are proposing to dismiss as redundant 20 or more employees within a 90-day period.

The Secretary of State must receive notification at least 30 days (or 45 days if 100 or more employees are to be made redundant) before the first dismissal takes effect.

A copy of the notification must also be provided for the employee representatives.

1.8 Summary dismissals

Immediate termination (without notice period) of employment by the employer is possible only if the employee has breached a statutory duty in an especially gross manner or for a lawful conviction of the employee, following the employee intentionally committing a crime which leads to unconditional imprisonment for a duration longer than one year (or six months in the case of crimes committed in connection with exercising their job).

The employer may immediately (with effect upon delivery to the employee) terminate the employment within a period of two months of learning the reason for immediate termination, but not later than one year from the date of occurrence of the respective reason for termination.

An employer cannot dismiss with immediate effect any employee who is pregnant or during the employee's maternity or parental leave.

An immediate termination must be made in writing and be delivered to the employee in accordance with the Labour Code, with the reasons for immediate termination being specified in such a way that prevents confusion with any other reason(s) for termination.

Summary dismissal (dismissal without notice) is only lawful where the employee has committed a breach of contract that is sufficiently serious to entitle the employer to treat the employment contract as terminated with immediate effect. A typical example is where the employee has committed gross misconduct.

1.9 Consequences if requirements are not met

Termination may be held invalid by the court and the employment relationship reinstated if the employee files a claim to the court no later than two months after the date of the purported termination of the employment relationship, and the court finds the termination to be invalid.

The employee may have various claims, such as an unfair dismissal claim where the primary remedy is financial compensation. However, there is also scope for the claimant to request reinstatement or re-engagement, and in very limited circumstances (e.g whistleblowing) the claimant can request interim relief, and if the tribunal grants this, then an employer must continue paying the claimant's wages until the date of the substantive hearing. Most employment-related claims in the UK are made in employment tribunals.

1.10 Severance pay

Minimum statutory severance pay depends on the reason for dismissal and  /  or the length of employment, and ranges from one average monthly salary for any dismissals for organisational reasons (including collective redundancies) of employees whose employment lasted less than one year, to 12 times the average monthly salary for dismissals for health reasons. The parties may negotiate a larger severance payment, or the payment of severance pay in the case of dismissal for other reasons.

The employment contract may provide for the employer to make a payment in lieu of notice, for example, equal to the salary that the employee would have earned during the notice period. If this is not provided for in the contract, the parties can agree for such a payment to be made, for example, as ‘damages’ for breach of contract.

If an employee with two years’ continuous service has been made redundant, they will be entitled to a statutory redundancy payment. The amount is calculated according to a statutory formula based on the employee’s age, length of service and weekly pay (capped at GBP 538 as at April 2020), up to a maximum of GBP 16,140 (as at April 2020). The employment contract may provide for an enhanced redundancy payment.

If the employee has been unfairly dismissed, and brings a successful claim in an employment tribunal they may be able to claim a ‘basic award’ calculated according to the same formula as the statutory redundancy payment (but employees cannot usually recover both a statutory redundancy payment and a basic award), and a ‘compensatory award’ which is capped at the lower of one year’s salary and GBP 88,519(as at April 2020). If an order for reinstatement or re-engagement is made there is scope for this cap to be lifted.

Employees who argue that they were dismissed for making a protected disclosure (whistleblowing) are not restricted by the statutory cap referred to above.

Similarly, the statutory cap does not apply where the dismissal was related to a prohibited ground under the Equality Act 2010. In these scenarios the potential awards can be significant.

1.11 Non-competition clauses

A post-contractual non-competition clause may be agreed upon between the employer and the employee and, if agreed, it must be in written form and must not last for more than one year. The agreement may be included in the employment agreement. Monetary compensation from the employer must, as a minimum, equal half the employee’s average monthly salary (i.e. of the wage / salary that the employee had prior to termination of the employment relationship) for each month during which the employee met the obligation not to compete stated in the clause. If the agreement sets out a financial penalty for breach of the clause by the employee, the employee’s obligation not to compete is discharged upon the payment of the penalty sum. The agreement is automatically terminated if the employer fails to pay the monetary compensation to the employee when it falls due. An employer may only withdraw from the non-competition clause during the term of employment. As far as case law is concerned, the withdrawal is only effective if it has been explicitly agreed upon, and such a provision is only enforceable if it contains reasons for the withdrawal, provided, in addition, such reasons are legitimate.

Restrictive covenants will be void for unlawful restraint of trade and so are unenforceable unless they protect the legitimate business interests of the employer and go no further than is necessary to provide that protection, in terms of activity, duration and geographical area. However they are widely used in senior level contracts. It is always recommended to take advice on tailoring such a clause for each individual employee and to ensure that when employees are promoted or their role changes that the restrictions are suitably updated.

1.12 Miscellaneous

The employer may not give notice of termination during a ‘protection period’ (i.e. where an employee is temporarily unfit for work, a night-shift employee is temporarily unfit to perform night work, an employee is conscripted or released from work to exercise a public office, or during pregnancy, maternity or parental leave), unless the termination is for organisational reasons due to the closure or relocation of the enterprise. There are several exceptions to this rule.

Employers may wish to avoid a potential dispute over a termination of employment by obtaining a waiver of rights from an employee in consideration for a termination payment. In the UK this agreement is referred to as a settlement agreement and there are a number of statutory formalities to include before such an agreement is enforceable in respect of statutory rights, including the requirement that the individual takes independent advice on the terms of the agreement. There are also risks attached to making an offer to an employee to enter into a settlement agreement and therefore legal advice should be taken before doing so. In addition, in 2019 the UK Government announced legislation on the use of non-disclosure agreements in discrimination cases which was expected to come into force in 2020, however given the pandemic, this has been delayed and no new time frame has been given. The UK statutory equality body, the Equality and Human Rights Commission issued guidance on this subject in October 2019 setting out good practice for employers to consider. 

2. Dismissal of managing directors

In the United Kingdom (UK), the rights and obligations of a ‘director’ are the same whether they are for a ‘managing director’ or any other type of director. However, not all directors are employees. ‘Managing directors’, for example, are employees of the company, but ‘non-executive directors’ are not employees. Normal practice is for a managing director to have a service agreement supplementing their statutory and common law obligations as a director. Often a managing director's employment contract will require them to resign any directorships when their employment terminates, so that their directorship and employment terminate simultaneously. It Is therefore often simpler (and preferable) to remove a managing director by dismissing them from their employment, and then requiring them to resign their directorship. Please see the section "Employees: United Kingdom" for information on the relevant issues when taking that approach, as well as the "Miscellaneous" section below.

This table only covers removal of the director from office as a director and does not cover termination of any contract of employment or other employment issues.

2.1 Reasons for dismissal

In the Czech Republic managing directors are not considered employees, therefore labour law protection does not apply to them. The relationship between the managing director and the company is of a commercial nature, not an employment one. An appointment as managing director (as a statutory body or a member of a statutory body of an entity, i.e. not as an employee) may be revoked without stating any reason.

The company may remove the director for any reason, unless the articles of association of the company or any other agreement between the director and the company provide otherwise. There is however a statutory procedure that the shareholders of any UK company can use to remove a director (see below). This procedure will apply regardless of any agreement between the company and the director, or any provision of the company's articles.

2.2 Form

A valid shareholder resolution at a general meeting is required. There must be a simple majority of shareholders present, unless stated otherwise in the relevant company’s statutory documents. Apart from cases when entities have a sole shareholder, revocation of an appointment as managing director must be on the programme of the invitation to the general meeting. If not, the appointment may only be revoked, if all shareholders are present and agree to change the programme to include the revocation.

The Companies Act 2006 gives shareholders a mandatory right to remove a director by ‘ordinary resolution’ (i.e. a simple majority of the shareholders attending and voting) at a meeting notwithstanding any other agreement between the director and the company. The resolution will be of no effect if passed in writing instead of at a meeting. At least one of the shareholders must give at least 28 clear days’ notice in writing before the meeting of an intention to move the resolution at the meeting. On receiving that notice, the company must forward the notice of the resolution to the director concerned and call a general meeting of the company to vote on the resolution. The director has the right to be heard at the meeting and to make written representations. 

The company's articles of association or shareholders' agreement may contain provisions that make it difficult in practice to remove a director or provide that they can be reinstated. The company's articles of association and shareholders' agreements should therefore be checked before considering taking this route. 

A company's articles of association may set out additional (and usually less complex or time-consuming) bases on which a director can be removed. For example, the 'Model Articles' under the Companies Act 2006 set out circumstances that trigger the automatic removal of a director, including that they are prohibited from being a director by law or a bankruptcy order is made against them. Some companies' articles of association also allow the directors to remove another director by majority vote, for example. The articles of a company should be reviewed for any such procedures if removal of a director is contemplated.

2.3 Notice period

Not applicable.

Removal as a director is immediate unless otherwise specified in the articles of association of the company.

2.4 Involvement of works council

No involvement.

No involvement.

2.5 Involvement of a union

No involvement.

No involvement.

2.6 Approval of state authorities necessary

Not required.

However, revocation of a managing director from his/her office must be filed in the Commercial Register without undue delay. The appropriate court managing the Commercial Register may review the revocation in order to verify whether the revocation was done in accordance with applicable laws and the relevant entity’s statutory documents.

Not necessary.

2.7 Collective redundancies

Not applicable.

Not applicable.

2.8 Summary dismissals

Not applicable.

No special rules apply.

2.9 Consequences if requirements are not met

Invalidity of revocation.

The removal of the director is void.

2.10 Severance pay

No statutory severance pay.

The director may be entitled to a payment under the terms of any service contract (for example a payment in lieu of notice), or as an employee under statute (for example a statutory redundancy payment). Sections 215 to 222 of the Companies Act 2006 contains special rules relating to compensation given to a director for their loss of office. Such compensation requires shareholder approval, except for certain payments that are made in good faith such as payments made in discharge of a legal obligation, or to settle a claim arising from loss of office or termination of employment.

2.11 Non-competition clauses

May be agreed in a performance agreement usually concluded with a member of a statutory body. The requirements set out in the Labour Code do not apply to managing directors unless explicitly agreed.

Restrictive covenants may be included in any service agreement. However, they will be void for unlawful restraint of trade and therefore unenforceable unless they protect the legitimate business interests of the employer and go no further than necessary to provide that protection in terms of the activities covered, duration and geographical area.

The director may also be subject to post-termination restrictions contained in other agreements such as a shareholder agreement, or (depending on the reward structure) share plans such as LTIPs (Long Term Incentive Plans).

2.12 Miscellaneous

Managing directors shall not enter into employment contracts with companies, unless the type of work performed under the employment contract is materially different from the role of managing director. Instead, they should conclude an agreement on the performance of the office of the managing director. Such an agreement will not be governed by Czech Labour Code. 

Regulated and listed companies should also be mindful of any obligations they may have under their regulatory rules and/or the rules applicable to their market listing. These rules are likely to limit the terms on which such companies can reimburse a director in connection with their removal from office or employment and can also subject a company to reporting obligations.