Breakdown in relations and dismissal

Case law: Employers dismissing employees following a ‘breakdown in relations’ between them should first ensure they cannot work together.

Employers planning to dismiss an employee because of a ‘breakdown in relations’ between them should consider giving the employee a chance to prove in practice that they can to work harmoniously before dismissing them.

An employee was dismissed on grounds that the relationship between her and her employer had broken down irretrievably. Her employer argued that this meant she was dismissed for ‘some other substantial reason’ and her dismissal was therefore fair. She claimed that the relationship had not irretrievably broken down and suggested ways in which she could continue to work with her colleagues.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) agreed that an objective reasonable employer would not have concluded that the employment relationship was beyond repair to the extent that dismissal was a reasonable option.

Particularly, the EAT found that she had not been given the chance to show that she could work harmoniously with her colleagues. Notably, it also found that the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures did not apply to dismissals for ‘some other substantial reason’ following a breakdown in working relationships.


  • Employers planning to dismiss an employee because of an alleged breakdown in relations between employer and employee should consider whether to give the employee a chance to prove, in practice, that they can continue to work harmoniously with their colleagues

Article from ICAEW – Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales

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