Unfair Dismissal

What is unfair dismissal?

A dismissal is unfair if an employer has no good reason to dismiss an employee or does not follow correct disciplinary procedures.

Dismissal is normally fair if an employer can show that it is for one of the following five reasons

  • a reason related to an employee's conduct
  • a reason related to an employee's capability or qualifications for the job
  • because of a redundancy
  • because a statutory duty or restriction prohibited the employment from continuing
  • another substantial reason which justifies the dismissal

Who can claim unfair dismissal?

Only employees can claim unfair dismissal. For ordinary unfair dismissal claims an employee must have at least two years’ service. Workers are not able to claim unfair dismissal. Whether someone is an employee or a worker is a technical issue on which we can offer advice.

How long do I have to present an unfair dismissal claim?

Generally speaking, the time for presenting a claim at the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal is three months less one day from the date of termination of employment.

What is automatic unfair dismissal?

Some reasons for dismissal are classed automatically unfair. Some examples are:

  • Pregnancy/relating to maternity
  • Family including parental and paternity leave
  • Being a part time or fixed-term employee
  • Pay and working hours including Working Time Regulations, annual leave and national minimum wage.

What remedy am I entitled to if I have been unfairly dismissed?

If an employee successfully presents a claim to an Employment Tribunal there are various remedies available including:

  • Compensation. A Tribunal has the ability to order an employer to pay an employee a basic award which is equivalent to a statutory redundancy payment and the compensatory award relates to unpaid wages and benefits.
  • Reinstatement. In certain circumstances employers agree to reinstate employees who have been dismissed.
  • Re-engagement. This is similar to reinstatement, although if an employee returns to work they do not necessarily have to engage in the same role they carried out before they were dismissed.  

How can I fund a claim for unfair dismissal?

We offer various funding options for unfair dismissal claims. If you pay us privately for the time we spend on the claim, we will give you a cost estimate at the start of the case which we will update as the case proceeds.  We can also agree a fixed fee for each stage of the work if this is appropriate. You might have legal expenses insurance which will cover our costs (your home and car insurance policies may include legal cover). In some circumstances we can act on a No Win No Fee basis - we can advise you on whether this applies in your particular case.

For more information, or to discuss your case, please contact our employment law specialists Maureen Cawthorn or James Hodgson on 01422 339600.


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