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As well as advising employers on how best to avoid unfair dismissal proceedings we represent both Claimants and Respondents in Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal proceedings in a range of employment law matters including unfair dismissal.
What is Unfair Dismissal?
If an employee has two years continuous service (subject to the exceptions below) they have the right not to be unfairly dismissed by an employer. There are five potentially fair reasons for dismissal, namely:
Breach of a statutory duty or restriction; and
Some other substantial reason (SOSR).
Even if an employer is able to establish one of the reasons above they will still need to satisfy an Employment Tribunal that, in all the circumstances, they acted reasonably in treating that reason as a sufficient reason for dismissal. The Tribunal will consider the procedures followed and assess whether the decision to dismiss was within a band of reasonable responses.
An employee may also be able to pursue a claim for constructive dismissal when they resign in circumstances where they believe their employer has fundamentally breached their contract of employment and left them no choice but to resign in response to said breach.
Exceptions to the 2 year rule:
There are circumstances when the requirement to have 2 years continuous service is not required and a dismissal will be classed as “automatically unfair”.
Examples of automatically unfair dismissals include (but are not limited to) dismissals:
as a result of whistleblowing;
for reasons connected with pregnancy, childbirth, statutory maternity leave, statutory paternity leave, statutory adoption leave, parental leave, shared parental leave, time off for attending antenatal and adoption appointments or time off for dependants;
for a health and safety reason;
for a reason connected with rights under the Working Time Regulations 1998;
for asserting a statutory right;
in relation to the national minimum wage; or
for trade union, membership or non-membership, or participation in trade union activities.
In the event of a successful claim for unfair dismissal the Tribunal will consider the following remedies:
Reinstatement – where the employee is treated as they had never been dismissed and are re-employed by the employer on the same terms and conditions with no loss of pay;
Re-engagement – when the employee is engaged in a different albeit comparable/suitable role with the employer; or
Compensation – this is the most common outcome from a successful claim and involves two elements (1) a basic award (calculated in the same way as a statutory redundancy payment; and (2) a compensatory award which is such amount as the tribunal believes is just and equitable based on the financial loss caused to the employee by the unfair dismissal. This effectively includes a claim for loss of salary, pension and other benefits lost by the employee. Certain maximum awards apply to both elements of compensation.
The time limits for claims for unfair dismissal are very strict and extremely short in comparison with the civil court, allowing employees a period of only 3 months from the dismissal to commence proceedings.
Employees - if you believe you have been unfairly dismissed please click on the link below and complete our free assessment form:
Employers - if you are facing the prospect of facing a claim of unfair dismissal against your company please click on the link below and we will contact you to discuss further: