Unfair Dismissal

If your employer has dismissed you without good reason or they have not followed a fair procedure, then you may be able to pursue an unfair dismissal claim in an employment tribunal.

What is Unfair Dismissal?

A claim for unfair dismissal occurs where either the procedure or the reason for the dismissal is unfair.

Generally, you must have been employed for a period of two years. There are exceptions to this rule such as if you have raised a health and safety concern, if you have been treated adversely as a result of being a trade union representative or if you have a protected characteristic and have been dismissed as a result of an issue arising from this.

What Makes a Dismissal Unfair?

There are five legally acceptable reasons that an employer can use to fairly dismiss an employee:

  1. Capability
  2. Conduct
  3. Redundancy
  4. Continuing the employment would break the law
  5. Some other substantial reason

The employer must demonstrate that the dismissal was for at least one of these five reasons. The employment tribunal will then consider all the circumstances around the dismissal including the size of the employer and the investigation process and procedure that was followed.

When looking at the investigation process and procedure, the employment tribunal will consider whether the employer had followed the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. This code recommends that the employer carries out various steps such as:

  • Investigating the disciplinary matter by holding an investigation meeting.
  • Invite the employee to a disciplinary hearing in writing which also provides information about the matter and the possible consequences. The employer should inform the employee that they have a right to be accompanied by a colleague and that they will be given the opportunity to present their case.
  • Following this hearing, if the employer decides to dismiss the employee then they should notify the employee in writing and give them an opportunity to appeal the decision.

If the employer fails to follow the Acas code, the employment tribunal may find that the dismissal was unfair, and it has the power to increase the compensation awarded by up to 25%.

How Do I Bring a Claim of Unfair Dismissal?

The employee must start the early conciliation process within three months of the date of the dismissal. Acas will try to settle the matter between the parties, but if they are unable to, the employee will be issued with an early conciliation certificate. This allows the employee to issue the unfair dismissal claim in the employment tribunal.

If the employment tribunal find the dismissal to be unfair, it can make the following orders:

  • Re-instatement
  • Re-engagement
  • Compensation

If you feel that you have a claim for unfair dismissal against your employer, please contact our highly regarded and friendly Employment team who will be happy to discuss your case with you. We know this can be a difficult and stressful time and we pride ourselves on providing an empathetic, swift, and personal service.


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