Unfair Dismissal

What is unfair dismissal?

For a dismissal to be fair it must be for a fair reason i.e. conduct, capability, breach of the law, or redundancy; and the dismissal must have been dealt with fairly i.e. follow the correct process, with the correct notice and payments. Unfair dismissal can be claimed by an employee through an Employment Tribunal if one of these tests is breached.

In order for an employee to claim unfair dismissal, they require 2 years of continuous service with the employer.

An employee can also claim Automatically Unfair dismissal where they require no qualifying service. If you are unsure, there are a number of tests and questions you can ask yourself. For example was the reason due to any of the following exceptional matters;

  • maternity, paternity or other family reasons;
  • whistleblowing;
  • being a fixed term or part time worker;
  • participating in trade union activities or employee representation;
  • TUPE;
  • Health and Safety;
  • National Minimum Wage, Working Time or annual leave

This list is not exhaustive but highlights some of the common reasons where the employee is to make a claim against the employer.

Why does unfair dismissal matter?

If a court or tribunal deems a dismissal as unfair, then the employer would need to award the employee compensation to accommodate for factors lost such as wages, other contractual benefits and employee rights. The compensation limits are currently estimated at approximately £14,670 to £80,541 as award to the employees who’s claims are successful. There are also other losses to a company to consider including reputation, morale; and recruitment time and costs.

We can help you with unfair dismissal

If you are in a circumstance where you need to dismiss an employee, as an employer you do have the right to do this but we suggest considering other options first to resolve the issue, and if dismissal is the best solution, ensure this is done in line with the Employment Rights Act 1996.

Other tips to consider if dismissal is an option are:

  • Give the employee a fair hearing
  • Give the employee the right to be accompanied
  • If multiple employees are involved then treat them in the same way
  • Consider previous live warnings
  • Consider if the employee can be disciplined instead of dismissal
  • Give the employee the right to appeal
  • Carry out the procedure consistently in line with your internal procedures and consider how they have been dealt with in the past.

If you have already dismissed an employee, and they are now making a claim of unfair dismissal, we can assist you in resolving the situation before it reaches tribunal.

Employment law relating to unfair dismissal

Other HR issues relating to unfair dismissal