Unfair dismissal


Simply put, if you are an employee you have the right not to be unfairly dismissed from your place of employment. If you feel there has been a breach of procedure and you have been unfairly dismissed, call us and we will assess if you require an employment specialist to bring your case to an Employment Tribunal.

What is unfair dismissal?

Unfair dismissal happens when an employer’s actions and decision-making process for a dismissal are not found to be reasonable.

Unlike wrongful dismissal, this is not a claim for breach of contract. Instead, the focus is on the employer’s actions and reasoning behind the decision to dismiss the employee and whether the employer has acted in a way that can be described as objectively ‘fair’.

Under unfair dismissal law, automatically unfair dismissals include:

  • Dismissals on grounds of sex, race, sexual orientation, religion or belief, and disability
  • Dismissals connected with pregnancy or maternity
  • Dismissals related to trade union membership
  • Dismissals for asserting any statutory right (i.e. a right given by legislation), such as complaining about health and safety
  • Dismissals in which the employer has failed to use the standard minimum disciplinary procedure.

Additionally, an employer must act reasonably in how they decide to dismiss. They cannot simply dismiss you if they don't like you. However, this is not an automatically unfair dismissal.

Time restrictions

This is very important. In order to be eligible to make an unfair dismissal claim, you need to have been in continuous employment with your employer for no less than two years. You also need to bring the claim within three months of being dismissed.

However, the two-year rule doesn't apply if the reason is automatically unfair, such as discrimination (see above).

What are fair reasons for dismissal?

The onus is on the employer to show that the reason the employee was dismissed is one of five reasons permitted by law:

  • Capability of the employee
  • Conduct of the employee
  • Redundancy
  • Continued employment of the employee would be illegal
  • Some other substantial reason (that the employer must show is substantial)

What issues will the Employment Tribunal consider?

Actions for unfair dismissal can only be brought through the Employment Tribunal.

The tribunal will also take a close look at the employer’s reasoning process for dismissing the employee and whether the reason provided was sufficient to warrant dismissing the employee.

If the employment tribunal finds that either the reason provided by the employer was not one of the five permitted reasons, or that the employer acted unreasonably or illogically, the employee’s dismissal will be unfair.

What happens if a claim is successful?

If the dismissal is found to be unfair, the employee is given the choice of whether to be re-instated in his or her job, or re-engaged (moved to a different job in the same company). If neither of the above solutions is either satisfactory or practical, the employee will be entitled to claim unfair dismissal compensation.

The compensation available in unfair dismissal cases will vary according to the circumstances of the employee as well as what the tribunal considers ‘just and equitable in all the circumstances’. In order to find out how much you would be entitled to, we recommend you speak to a specialist employment solicitor at the earliest opportunity.

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

If you think you may be entitled to unfair dismissal compensation or are concerned you might have been unfairly dismissed, Contact Law can put you in touch with a specialist employment solicitor free of charge. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

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