What is an unfair dismissal?

An employer cannot end someone’s employment (dismiss them) for no good reason. If they are dismissed, other than for a lawful reason, an eligible employee will have a legal claim for unfair dismissal which they can bring in an employment tribunal.

There are only five potentially lawful reasons why an employer can dismiss someone. A dismissal for any other reason will be unfair. An employee is therefore protected against the whim of their employer.

The lawful reasons are:

  • misconduct by the employee
  • capability of the employee (which includes ill health)
  • redundancy
  • illegality (e.g. someone whose job is to drive losing their driving licence)
  • some other substantial reason (a catch-all which might include a break-down of working relationships for some reason)

Even if an employer can show it had one of these reasons for ending employment, the dismissal can still be unfair if the employer did not follow the correct procedure properly.

A fair procedure will usually involve informing the employee in writing of the issue, meeting with the employee to discuss the matter and allowing them to have their say. Giving the employee the opportunity to be accompanied by a work colleague or trade union representative at any formal meeting as well as the right of appeal against any decision to dismiss them are also important elements of any fair procedure.

Can I claim unfair dismissal?

Not everyone is protected against unfair dismissal, there are some eligibility criteria for bringing a claim against an employer. These are:

  • being an employee employed under a contract of employment (this excludes workers and those who are self-employed).
  • Having at least two years’ service (there are some limited exceptions where there is no minimum such as: dismissal on maternity, health and safety and whistle-blowing grounds).
  • Being dismissed by the employer (including resignation in a constructive dismissal situation).
  • Bringing a claim within 3 months of the dismissal.

Where to report unfair dismissal

Unfair dismissal is a claim which will be considered by an employment tribunal following an application from an individual. An ex-employee must complete the relevant application forms (ET1) within the time limit in order to start the process of bringing a claim of unfair dismissal.

However, an individual must first tell ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service).ACAS will offer “early conciliation” and will talk to both parties about the dispute. This gives the opportunity to reach an agreement before going to an employment tribunal.  Participating in conciliation before going to a tribunal may have several benefits (on costs and time) and will automatically extend the time limit for bringing a tribunal claim if agreement can’t be reached.  See the ACAS website to find out more about conciliation.

Find out how strong your case is

We will consider your unfair dismissal claim in detail, closely examining the conduct of your employer, and advise you on whether you have a good case.

We will always be honest and clear, and will be careful not to give you false hope. At the same time, we will always go to bat for you with a view to achieving the best possible result.

Bringing a tribunal claim

Should you wish to bring an employment tribunal claim, we will ensure that our constructive dismissal solicitors ensure you are fully aware of everything such a move entails and that you are in the best possible position to secure a favourable outcome.

We will make sure that you follow the correct procedures, submit the relevant documentation at the appropriate times and are represented expertly. From beginning to end, our solicitors will pursue the best possible result for you.

Contact us now so we can explain how we can help.

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