Unfair Dismissal

What is unfair dismissal?

Unfair dismissal is when an employer did not have a fair reason to dismiss an employee or when they did have a fair reason but dealt with the issue in an unfair manner.

To be dismissed, your employer must have a good reason for doing so. These reasons can be placed under 3 categories. Firstly, there is your conduct (you’ve continually been late / not turned up for work or you’ve demonstrated poor discipline. Secondly, there is your capability (you can’t do your job properly or you can’t work / get along with your colleagues.) Finally, the other “fair” reason for dismissal is as a result of redundancy.

If I am claiming unfair dismissal, what could I expect should the company be found to be in the wrong?

If you’ve won a claim again unfair dismissal, you can expect to receive either compensation, reinstatement into your previous job, or maybe even a new job within the Company; however, from these, compensation is the most likely. Basic compensation awards work out as:

Below 22: half a week’s gross basic pay for each year of service with the company.
Between 22-41: one week’s gross basic pay for each year.
Over 41: one and a half weeks’ gross basic pay for each year.

To claim against unfair dismissal, you would need to have worked at least 1 year continuously and be below normal retirement age for the position. It doesn’t matter if you’re part time or full time.

Common examples of unfair dismissal:

Dismissal relating to maternity / paternity leave.
Dismissal for taking time off work for parental leave.
Dismissal for requesting flexible working conditions.

If I’ve been dismissed, how much notice should the company give me?

This varies, but as a general rule, they must give you the minimum stated in your contract. The only time this rule doesn’t apply is when you’re being dismissed as a result of gross misconduct – such as theft or violence.

When dismissing an employee, a company must prove that they have followed proper procedure and also prove that have made their employee aware of all company rules and regulations.

Is there anyone who can’t complain of unfair dismissal?

Yes, if you’re not classed as an “employee”, (contractors / freelance professionals, etc.), the chances are, you wouldn’t be able to complain.

What is ‘constructive’ dismissal?

This is when you’ve been forced into resigning from your job as a result of intimidation / abusive behaviour. This can often be difficult to prove, therefore, ensure you gather as much evidence of this before making a complaint.

What’s the difference between ‘unfair’ dismissal and ‘wrongful’ dismissal?

If you’ve been dismissed from your job without sufficient notice, this would be classed as wrongful dismissal. The actual conditions surrounding wrongful dismissal will centre around the terms in your contract that have been breached, so in certain situations where some people can claim unfair dismissal, others can’t. A common example of wrong dismissal is when an employer has sacked an employee without following the disclipinary procedure detailed in the employee’s contract.

If I am dismissed, what else can I do?

While out of work, you may be eligible to claim benefits, such as Jobseeker’s Allowance or Council Tax Benefits.

Where can I get more advice?

  • The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas): 08457 474747. Acas has also produced a Code of Practice that offers employers practical advice on how to deal with disciplinary matters in a ‘fair’ way.
  • Your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
  • Your trade union (if you’re a member).

Recent stories in the press of unfair dismissal

After being dismissed for texting his employer following the death of his Brother, a company was ordered to pay their former employee £7,000 in compensation.

An Orthodontist who claimed to have been bullied out of her job following sexual and racial discrimination was recently awarded in excess of £100,000.

A Strathyclyde-based Fireman lost his claim for unfair dismissal after raising a false fire alarm at a block of flats housing hundreds of students who where then evacuated and left in the cold.

3 Truck Drivers are claiming compensation after alleging that a lost contract resulted in them losing their jobs.

With 20+ years of experience writing CVs, it still puts a smile on my face when I hear a client has secured an interview Lee Tonge - Founder and Director


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