SOSR, otherwise known as Some Other Substantial Reason, is one of the five potentially fair reasons for dismissal under section 98 of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

SOSR can be used when a dismissal isn’t covered by one of the other four reasons outlined by the Act, which are conduct, capability, redundancy, and breaching of a statutory duty/restriction.

SOSR can therefore cover a range of situations however, there are limits to its use as a reason for dismissal, and a tribunal would judge the use of SOSR on an individual basis to ensure it was appropriate and a substantial enough reason for dismissal.

Based on case law, there are a few situations in which SOSR could be relied on as a fair reason for dismissal, including:

• A business reorganisation that doesn’t involve redundancy
• Refusing to accept revised terms and conditions of employment
• A personality clash between employees who are unable to work together and are causing significant disruption to the business
• A breakdown of trust and confidence between parties within the business
• Creating a risk to the business’s reputation
• A conflict of interest with business interests
• Pressure from a third party to dismiss a particular employee

As well as ensuring that the reason is substantial, employers must ensure that a SOSR dismissal is conducted reasonably and fairly.

This means having a robust dismissal process, which includes making sure that all other reasonable options have been considered.

It is recommended that within the dismissal process, the employer should first investigate the issue, which includes looking at all other reasonable alternatives to dismissal.

Employers should hold a formal meeting to consult with the individual(s), and employees must be made aware that they are entitled to be accompanied in any meetings relating to a dismissal.

Where a decision is made, this should be confirmed in writing to the employee, providing the right to appeal.

Given the complexity of carrying out an SOSR dismissal, it is suggested that this is only used where there is clear and justifiable evidence supporting this decision.

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