What is the current legal position on dismissing an employee who has informed us that they are actively looking for another job external to the business?
Generally speaking, an employer cannot dismiss an employee unless they have a valid reason connected with the employee’s conduct or capacity. A valid reason is one that is sound, defensible, and related to the employment. Whether or not an employee looking for another job outside of the business will be defensible will depend upon the circumstances.
Dismissal of an employee for seeking alternative employment could be grounded upon breach of an implied duty of the employee to their employer, such as the duty to behave honestly, perform their work to the best of their ability, act in the interests of the employer, and follow reasonable and lawful directions. Where these obligations are breached, an employer may have the right to dismiss the employee.
If you dismiss the employee during the first 6 months of employment (12 months if you employ less than 15 employees) you will not liable to an unfair dismissal claim.