Employee Guide to Unfair Dismissal from Work

30 May 2016

Dismissing you from your job should be a last resort for your employer. In many cases a simple, informal chat should be enough to address any problems. For more serious issues, your employer should have a disciplinary and grievance procedure that deals with the process to follow if there are real problems to address.

There are reasons why dismissal from work can be fair, but there are also reasons for dismissal that are unfair. If your employer can show that they dismissed you for one of the following reasons then they have dismissed you fairly:

  1. Something related to your behaviour or conduct at work
  2. Something related to your ability to do your job or your qualifications
  3. Because you were made redundant
  4. A Statutory ban such as a driving ban or no legal entitlement to work in the UK
  5. Some other substantial reason such as business reorganisation, third party pressure to dismiss or breakdown in working relations

Your employer should have good policies and procedures in place that clearly outline what happens when there are performance issues at work, or a need for disciplinary action. Where these have been shown to you and followed, you may have difficulty proving that you were unfairly dismissed.

But if they dismiss you for any other reason, you could have been unfairly dismissed. Our specialist team of Unfair Dismissal Solicitors can help you to understand whether you have a claim or not. Some reasons for unfair dismissal are automatically unfair. They include (but are not limited to):

  1. Dismissal relating to pregnancy, childbirth or family leave (such as maternity, adoption, shared, parental, unpaid parental or paternity leave)
  2. Dismissal for a health and safety reason or for making a protected disclosure (i.e. whistleblowing)
  3. Dismissal because you are a member of a trade union or because of union representation in your workplace
  4. Being dismissed because of your rights as a part-time worker under the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations or your rights as a fixed-term employee under the Fixed-term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002
  5. Dismissed in connection with your entitlement to paid annual leave and other rights under the Working Time Regulations 1998
  6. Dismissal where there is a transfer of an undertaking (TUPE) and the transfer is the reason or principal reason for dismissal.

There is an ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures in place for employers to use to shape the way they deal with their employees. The Code of Practice provides basic practical guidance to employers, employees and their representatives and sets out principles for handling disciplinary and grievance situations in the workplace.

The ACAS Code of Practice says all employers in England and Wales should aim to resolve all disciplinary issues in the workplace and avoid an employee having to take their employer to an Employment Tribunal. If you have to take your employer to an Employment Tribunal and they did not follow the Code of Practice issued by ACAS, the Tribunal can increase any compensation award by up to a maximum of 25%.

This should be a very good reason for your employer to follow the guidelines laid down by ACAS.

Unfair dismissal from employment can also occur if you feel that your employer is acting so unreasonably that you have no option but to leave your job. This can also be known as constructive dismissal.

To make a successful claim against your employer for constructive dismissal, you'll need to show that your employer has fundamentally breached your contract of employment, you did not accept the breach of contract and you had no choice but to leave.

It can be really difficult to prove that you've been constructively dismissed. Like unfair dismissal you need to show that you were continuously employed by your employer for at least two years unless you can show that you were dismissed for an automatically unfair reason in which case the two-year service requirement does not apply (except for dismissals because of a spent conviction and dismissals where there is a transfer of an undertaking).

It is really important to get legal advice from a Solicitor or Lawyer that specialises in unfair dismissal from work claims. This can help you to be clear about your position before you make any decisions.

At Co-op Legal Services our Employment Law Solicitors offer fixed fee employment law services no matter what the employment issues are. Whether your unfair dismissal from work claim goes all the way to Employment Tribunal or if it's settled, we will always provide clear, impartial and jargon-free legal advice.

We don't work for employers ever, we only ever represent employees so you can rest assured that we are focused on fighting your corner. We've helped more than 3,000 employees in England and Wales with their employment law problems and we can help you too.

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