Unfair dismissal is one of the most common reasons for Employment Tribunals. Unfair dismissal is where an employer terminates an employee’s contract without a fair reason to do so. Unfair dismissal can be claimed by the employee if the employer had a fair reason but handled the dismissal using a wrong procedure. The Employment Rights Act 1996 states that employees are entitled to a fair reason before being dismissed.

Although you may think you’ve dismissed an employee fairly, they could still make a claim for unfair dismissal if they think that:

  • The reason you had given was false
  • The reason was unfair
  • You have been unreasonable, for example have failed to give a considerate amount of notice about their dismissal

If your employer dismisses you for exercising or trying to exercise one of your statutory (legal) employment rights, you will have been automatically unfairly dismissed.

Statutory employment rights

Examples of employee’s statutory employment rights are:

  • a written statement of employment particulars
  • an itemised pay statement
  • a minimum notice period
  • maternity, paternity or adoption leave
  • time off for antenatal care
  • parental leave
  • time off for dependants
  • the right to request flexible working arrangements
  • not to be discriminated against because of your gender, race, disability, religion or belief, political opinion, sexual orientation or age

 

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Fair reasons for dismissal

Reasons for fair dismissals are:

  • The employee has shown misconduct i.e. stole, shown violence, poor attendance, etc)
  • A statutory requirement i.e. an employee is requited to drive as part of their role, but has had their license revoked
  • The employee has been made redundant
  • Other acceptable reasons i.e. if there was a change to the terms of employment and the employee refuses to accept.

Consequences of an unfair dismissal

If an employee finds he or she has been unfairly dismissed they will usually take an employer through to an employment tribunal. If the tribunal finds the dismissal to be unfair then the employer will not be able to defend the claim and the employee will succeed with the claim. The employer will then have to reinstate or pay compensation to the employee.

Length of service

Expect in defined situations, an employee must have a minimum of 2 years continuous service to raise an unfair dismissal claim and qualify for the right.

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