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Unfair Dismissal

Employees who have been employed continuously by their employer for 2 years or more have the right not to be unfairly dismissed. Some dismissals are automatically unfair. For example, a dismissal relating to childbirth, whistleblowing or if you took action in relation to a health and safety issue. 

Your employer cannot dismiss you without relying on one of the potentially fair reasons set out in law.

The five potentially fair reasons are :

  • Incapability or qualification (including incapability through ill health)
  • Misconduct
  • Illegality
  • Redundancy
  • Some Other Substantial Reason which justifies the dismissal of the employee holding the position which the employee held.

As well as having a fair reason, your employer must also act reasonably in dismissing you for one of these reasons and must follow a fair procedure before dismissing you. In deciding whether the employer has acted reasonably, a tribunal would take into account all of the circumstances of the case and the size and administrative resources of the employer. The tribunal is not allowed to substitute its own decision for that of the employer.

Employment tribunals must take the ACAS Code of Guidance on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures into account when deciding most unfair dismissal cases. The tribunal may decide to increase compensation by up to 25% for any unreasonable failure by an employer to follow the ACAS Code, for example, if your employer dismisses you for misconduct without holding a disciplinary hearing. Similarly, if an employee fails to follow the ACAS code, compensation can be reduced by up to 25%, for example if you are offered an opportunity to appeal your dismissal and fail, without good reason, to do so.

Some dismissals are treated as automatically unfair and a tribunal will not need to consider whether the employer acted reasonably or not. For example, it is automatically unfair to dismiss an employee because she is pregnant, or he/ she tried to exercise their right to take time off to care for a dependant.

Case Studies:

Disputed Redundancy and Discrimination

Advising a senior executive and member of executive committee of national organisation in a disputed redundancy claim including claims of unfair dismissal, sex discrimination, bullying and harassment. Negotiating settlement in the region of £100,000

Senior Executive dismissal and loss of benefits

Acting for a Managing Director accused of misconduct.  Advising on termination of employment and loss of contractual benefits.  Negotiating settlement of all claims.

Unfair Dismissal and Race Discrimination

Advising employee on claims of unfair dismissal, race discrimination, bullying and harassment.  Assisting with grievance and successful negotiation of a settlement with employer of all claims in the region of £50,000.

Unfair Dismissal, Whistleblowing, Bullying and Harassment

Acting for employee in claims for unfair dismissal, whistleblowing, an aggravated against blue chip international company.  Securing significant compensation in the region of £100,000.

Constructive Dismissal, Bullying and Harassment

Advising employee in claims for constructive dismissal, aggravated bullying and harassment resulting in settlement of claims in the region of £70,000.

Sex and Maternity Discrimination

Acting for employee who was the sole employee to be made redundant following her return from maternity leave in claims for unfair dismissal and discrimination.  Successful settlement of claims. 

Age Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment

Acting for employee with significant claims against a large national employer for age discrimination bullying and harassment.  Successfully negotiating a settlement in the region of £90,000 at an early stage of the claim.

Settlement Agreement

Advising a group of employees about their redundancy and on settlement agreements proposed by their employer.

If your employer has failed to give you a fair reason for dismissal, failed to follow a proper procedure, or if you think your employer is about to dismiss you unfairly, please please contact Judith Curran by email or telephone 01689 887812.

Remember, there are very strict time limits for making claims in the tribunal and these can be as short as 3 months, so you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.