What is Unfair Dismissal?
Unfair dismissal is when your employer terminates your contract without having a legally fair reason to do so. This is known as a ‘substantively unfair dismissal’.
An unfair dismissal can also be when your employer terminates your contract of employment with a potentially fair reason but handles your dismissal incorrectly. This is known as a ‘procedurally unfair dismissal’.
In either circumstance, there are laws that protect you.
To qualify to bring an unfair dismissal claim in the Employment Tribunal, you must meet a number of criteria. You must:
- Be an employee (rather than self-employed or, in most cases, working through an agency),
- Normally have at least two years of continuous employment (subject to certain limited exceptions),
- Be in employment that has a sufficient connection to Great Britain,
- Be within the 3-month time primary limit for bringing a claim to the Employment Tribunal.
Why Can an Employer Dismiss You?
Employment tribunals follow certain guidelines that contain potentially fair reasons why a person can be fired or dismissed. These are Capability, Conduct, Redundancy, Breaking the Law and SOSR (“Some other substantial reason”).
Capability – refers to the capability and competence of an employee to do their job.
Conduct – this includes the employee’s actions at work, including their misdemeanours, abusive or racist behaviour, unauthorised absence, poor punctuality, theft from the company, etc.
Redundancy – employers are required to consult, fairly select employees for redundancy and consider alternatives to avoid redundancy. An employer cannot be seen to target a single individual for redundancy or make redundancies at random.
Breaking the law – an employee cannot continue doing the job they do without the employer or employee contravening any enactment.
Some Other Substantial Reason (“SOSR”) – this is the “catch-all” category. It covers the situation where an employer seeks to change the employee Ts & Cs; protecting the employer’s legitimate business interests; third party pressure to dismiss an employee; breakdown in trust and confidence and a personality clash.
Another common reason, not listed above, is constructive dismissal. This refers to the situation when an employer gives you no other choice but to resign, often because of bullying at work.
Band of reasonable responses
Once an employer has established a potentially fair reason for dismissal, they must then show that it was reasonable to dismiss for that reason in all the circumstances having regard to the size and administrative resources of the employer and all the circumstances of the case.
The decision to dismiss you must fall within the band of reasonable responses of a reasonable employer.
The employer must follow a fair procedure. First, they must conduct a full investigation into the allegations. Secondly, they must make sure all the evidence is put to the employee. The employee then must be allowed an opportunity to consider it and to respond to it.
The employer must follow the ACAS Disciplinary Code failing which any damages can be uplifted by 25% at Tribunal.
Taking Employer to Tribunal
If your employer has acted unfairly and outside the band of reasonable responses, you can instigate proceedings at an Employment Tribunal for Unfair Dismissal seeking compensation. Our expert Employment Law Solicitors can help you with such a claim.
If you need help of an expert Employment Law Solicitor, call us on 0800 612 9509 or complete one of our contact forms. Alternatively, fill in our Tribunal Claim Assessment Form. Subject to a favourable assessment of the merits and depending upon the value of your claim, we may offer to represent you on a No Win No Fee basis.