Unfair Dismissal Law
What Can I Do If I Have Been Dismissed?
Being let go from your job can be a shocking experience, and can leave you in a vulnerable situation. If your dismissal was not fair according to employment laws, namely unfair dismissal law, you may be able to do something about it.
If you have been dismissed from your job, your employer must give you a good reason that they are able to justify and they must go through the correct process to do so in a fair and balanced way. If they don’t, a claim may be made against them for unfair dismissal.
Before you consider making a claim for unfair dismissal, you must first ensure that you are employed by the company (rather than self-employed) and that you have been working for them for the required period.
We will explain later how long you need to be working for your employer to make a claim, but this essentially depends on why you’ve been dismissed and the steps you wish to take.
What Are The Fair Reasons For Dismissal?
The fair reasons for dismissing someone include the following:
Capability relates to an employee’s performance and ability to do their job. For instance, if you have long periods of sick leave, your employer should look for ways to support you and see if they can help you do your job or, give you a different role. They should also give you reasonable time to recover. If you are dismissed as a result of a disability, then this may amount to discrimination.
Illegality refers to it being illegal for the employer to continue employing you. For example, you may not have a visa or a legal right to work in the UK.
As an employee, you can be dismissed as a result of your actions. For example, you have been found harassing other staff members or are constantly late to work and have been warned. In some extreme cases, you may be dismissed immediately like if you have committed fraud or stolen equipment.
If the company cannot keep you on because they are stopping trading or the role no longer exists, then they can make you redundant. The correct processes for redundancy must be followed.
- Another substantial reason
Other substantial reasons may be that you are sent to prison or your fixed-term contract has ended.
What Qualifies As Unfair Dismissal?
In unfair dismissal law, an unfair dismissal can happen where there is no fair or justifiable reason for letting someone go, or the correct dismissal processes were not followed. We will go into more detail on these points.
Reasons For Dismissal
You should be told why you are being dismissed. Certain reasons for dismissal may be considered automatically unfair such as being sacked after applying for maternity or paternity leave, whistle-blowing, doing jury duty, joining a trade union, or requesting flexible working.
You may not be able to claim unfair dismissal if you have been told to leave because you’re not doing a good job for instance, and there is proof to back this up. But, this may be unfair if the correct disciplinary action was not taken before sacking you. Alternatively, if you are made redundant or the company is no longer able to employ you, this may be a legitimate reason for dismissal.
The details surrounding the dismissal are subjective to your individual circumstances and not everybody’s situation is the same. This is why it is important to get independent advice.
If your employer dismisses you because you have a “protected characteristic” you could challenge this regardless of the amount of time you have worked for them. Protected characteristics can include the following:
- Being married or in a civil partnership
- Gender reassignment
- Pregnancy or on a maternity leave
- Race including colour, ethnicity, origin, or nationality
- Religion or belief
- Sex or sexual orientation
For example, you are dismissed because of your nationality or because you become pregnant.
If your employer decides to dismiss you, they must follow the correct and fair procedures. This means going through the right company processes which could include giving you a certain period of notice to leave or, following a disciplinary procedure before firing you. This can also extend to the redundancy selection procedures which are specific.
Can You Sue Your Employer For Unfair Dismissal?
According to unfair dismissal law, if you feel as though you have been unfairly dismissed, you have a few options. You can speak with HR or management directly to try to resolve the problem if you find the correct procedures have not been followed.
If you are a member of a union, you may want to speak to your representative to gain advice on where you stand before taking action. The representative may organise a meeting with your employer to discuss a resolution.
On the other hand, you could find an alternative route to resolve the situation through mediation, conciliation, or arbitration.
In some cases, you may not be able to solve the dispute through other means and may find that your last option is to go to the employment tribunal.
Who Can Claim For Unfair Dismissal And When?
You can do this if you have worked for your employer for at least 2 years if you started working for them after 6th April 2012. Or, you have been working for them for at least 1 year if you started before 6th April 2012.
If you believe you have been discriminated against by your employer, you can make a claim for unfair dismissal regardless of the time worked for them.
You should be aware that there is a time limit and a claim must be made within 3 months of being dismissed from your role.
What If I Cannot Make A Claim Under Unfair Dismissal Law?
You may not qualify for unfair dismissal if you have not been with your employer for long enough for instance (as explained earlier). Depending on the reasons for your dismissal, you may be able to consider other options such as making a claim for wrongful dismissal.
Wrongful dismissal is where the employer breaks the terms of your employment contract by dismissing you in a way that is not correct procedurally, such as not giving you the right notice period.
You could take your employer to the employment tribunal for this. Any claims should be made within 3 months, minus one day from the date of the dismissal.