Fair dismissal


A fair dismissal, or statutory dismissal, of an employee arises when the employer has followed all the relevant statutory procedures and has a fair reason for dismissing the employee.

What constitutes fair dismissal?

Under the Employment Rights Act 1996, there are several potentially fair reasons for dismissing an employee, which are summarised below:

  • Their inability to carry out their duties, or lack of qualifications. Have a look at our page on non-capability
  • The fact that it has become illegal for them to work in their current role, or for the employer to continue to employ them
  • Some other substantial reason

If the dismissal was due to one of the points listed above, the employment tribunal may find that a fair dismissal occurred.

It is also possible to dismiss an employee for misconduct such as:

  • Fighting
  • Dishonesty
  • Sexual harassment

As a general rule, for an employment tribunal to return a finding of fair dismissal on the grounds of the employee’s misconduct, the misconduct must take place within the employment.

If an employer wishes to dismiss an employee due to a lack of qualifications, the qualifications required by the employer must be specific and relate to the employee’s job.

The overall approach taken by employment tribunals when considering whether a fair dismissal has arisen is one of reasonableness. They will consider whether the employer has acted reasonably in arriving at their decision to dismiss the employee.

Legal procedures for dismissal

In employment law, there are two types of statutory dismissal (fair dismissal) and disciplinary procedure. These are known as the standard three-step procedure and the modified two-step procedure.

The standard three-step statutory dismissal and disciplinary procedure applies when an employer contemplates dismissing or taking relevant disciplinary action against the employee. Go to our dismissal procedure page for more details.

The procedures are likely to apply to any hearings relating to dismissal or disciplinary matters. These include where an employer is considering dismissing an employee on:

  • Capability
  • Conduct
  • Redundancy
  • Non-renewal of a fixed-term contract grounds

The modified two-step statutory dismissal and disciplinary procedure applies in certain circumstances. Normally, it applies when the employee is dismissed on the grounds of misconduct. However, it must have been reasonable for the employer to dismiss the employee without making investigations into the circumstances of the misconduct.

Step one involves the employer writing to the employee. In this letter, the employer must explain why he thinks the employee is guilty of the misconduct that has led to his dismissal. The employer must also inform the employee of their right to appeal the decision.

Step two occurs if the employee wishes to launch an appeal. If the employee does wish to appeal, then the employer must meet with them to hear their appeal.

Let us help

If you are unsure if your dismissal has been fair, or you suspect incorrect procedure has been carried out in the leading up to your dismissal, it is always recommended to seek legal advice to find out if you may be entitled to compensation for your loss.

Think you know all there is to know about unfair dismissal? Take our quiz.

Do you believe your dismissal was unfair and want to bring a claim in the employment tribunal? Contact Law can recommend employment law specialists, who have extensive experience in successful tribunal claims. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

0800 1777 162
or fill in the form
Our trained advisor contacts you
Your chosen specialist solicitor calls you
Quick enquiry form
Area of law:
What our clients say about us
"This was the first time I've been to court, which was a nerve-racking experience for me. However, I felt very prepared, I understood my case and representation - this was down to you."
Gavin, criminal motoring, Oct 15
"Your service, and the prompt call back from your recommended firm was very good. I would not hesitate to call again or recommend your service."
Ian, employment law, Truro, July 15
"The firm were excellent, could not have been better! They are exactly what I need right now."
Linda, criminal defence, Thames Ditton, Jul 15
"Your contact and service was immediate and utmost professional, 10/10."
TF, conveyancing, Dudley, Jun 15
"I appreciate the service that you provide. I found you to be courteous, efficient and reassuring at a time when my confidence in justice is completely negative."
Patrick, litigation, Pontypridd, Jun 15
"I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the speed of which you came back to me in. If anyone else can benefit from your help like I have done, it would make my day."
Gail M, family law, Potters Bar, Jun 15
"Your assistance was extremely helpful. Particularly to someone who in 40 years of business has never experienced this sort of issue."
TD, commercial litigation, Galashiels, Apr 15
"It is difficult to express the value Contact Law has to someone like me who had very little understanding of the law and how to proceed forward with my case. Thank you for the service you provided."
AE, defamation law, Worthing, Apr 15
"Thank you for the efficient service I received. I was contacted by your solicitor on the same day as my request. Your quick response to my situation made me feel secure."
AN, employment law, London, Apr 15
"Your service was excellent, very fast and informative. I never got the impression of being pressurised at all. The solicitor you recommended was also excellent – very knowledgeable and supportive."
JHD, Motoring law, Liverpool, Apr 15
Contact Law supports the endeavours of STAE and commends all the work they are undertaking to assist in the plight of the Asian Elephant


We use cookies on the Contact Law site to help us improve it.

If you would like to allow our cookies, please click 'Continue' or carry on browsing. For more information on cookies and how to change your settings, click 'More info'.