No Unfair Dismissal Protection for Armed Forces Personnel

28 June 2018

British armed forces personnel are not able to bring claims for unfair dismissal because they are specifically excluded from the legislation.

This means that if you are a member of the military, the air forces or the maritime forces and you are sacked, you will not be able to pursue a claim for unfair dismissal – even if you believe there is no good reason for your dismissal.

Why are Armed Forces Personnel Excluded?

There is no explanation in the legislation as to why armed forces personnel are excluded from making unfair dismissal claims. However, it is thought that the policy exists for reasons of practicality.

Is Anyone Else Excluded?

Along with armed forces personnel, the following are also specifically excluded from making unfair dismissal claims against their employer:

  • Employees who take part in unofficial industrial action
  • Share fisherman, who work aboard a fishing vessel and are paid by a share in the profits of that vessel
  • Employees working under illegal contracts
  • Employees in the Police, unless the dismissal was based on whistleblowing or health and safety reasons
  • Self-employed people and contractors.

Typically, an individual must also be working (or be based) in England or Wales to bring an unfair dismissal claim under English and Welsh law. However, you may be able to take an unfair dismissal claim through the British court system if you are working for a company whose headquarters are in England or Wales but you are posted abroad.

Who Can Claim for Unfair Dismissal?

To make an unfair dismissal claim in England or Wales, you must meet all three of the following criteria:

  1. You must be an employee
  2. You must have been working for your employer continuously for 1 year if you started at the company before 6 April 2012, or for 2 years if you started after 6 April 2012
  3. You must have been dismissed or constructively dismissed.

There are various reasons why your dismissal might be unfair. The easiest way to find out if your dismissal was unfair is to speak to an Employment Law Solicitor. It is recommended you do this as soon as possible, as unfair dismissal claims must be made within three months from the date you were dismissed. This does not leave much time, and if you miss the deadline, you will no longer have the opportunity to make an unfair dismissal claim, except in exceptional circumstances.

Examples of Unfair Dismissal

Some situations can amount to an automatic unfair dismissal. This will be the case if you have been dismissed from your job for reasons relating to:

  • Pregnancy
  • Family, such as maternity or paternity leave
  • Trade union membership (or lack of membership)
  • Part-time or fixed-time employee status
  • Asserting your rights in respect of pay or working hours
  • Whistleblowing.

Additionally, your dismissal from work will be considered unfair if you were sacked for discriminatory reasons. For instance, if you were fired because your employer discovered that you are homosexual.

Speak to an Employment Law Solicitor

Whatever your role, if you believe you have been unfairly dismissed from your job, you should speak to an Employment Solicitor about your options. Even if you are one of those employees who is excluded from making an unfair dismissal claim, it will at least ensure that you have clarified your legal position and will allow you to establish whether there is any other action you can take.

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