He is the most famous frog on the planet – although in fairness there aren’t that many green amphibians who are household names - but Kermit is more often in the news for his tempestuous love life with Miss Piggy rather than employment issues.
But the name behind the voice of the Jim Henson creation, Steve Whitmire, has been making the headlines after revealing a parting of the ways with the Disney owned Muppet Studios.
Although the reasons for his departure – Whitmire says he would never ‘abandon’ the role – haven’t been made public, it shines a light on how employers deal with the removal of an unwanted employee.
Although the option to fire an employee at will exists stateside, it doesn’t in the UK so on this side of the pond, to reduce the possibility of an unfair dismissal claim, employers have to have a potentially fair reason for dismissing.
This could be for reasons of conduct, capability, redundancy, for what is known as ‘some other substantial reason’, or if to continue employing a person would breach other legislation.
Employers must follow a fair process, which would cover a proper investigation, letting the employee have access to investigation documents, conducting a fair disciplinary hearing and giving the employee a right of appeal.
Employees also need to be informed of their right to be accompanied during the disciplinary process and to be fully aware of the charges against them.
It is best practice and highly recommended for the person carrying out the investigation to be different from the person who carries out the disciplinary hearing. If an appeal then needs to be carried out, a more senior individual, who is of sufficient seniority to be able to overturn any disciplinary decision if necessary, must do it.
Although it may seem a long and drawn out procedure, it does reduce the risk of a business facing a potentially costly claim for unfair dismissal.