Unfair Dismissal Protection

Protection from unfair dismissal is intended to safeguard employees from being dismissed from their job without a valid and justifiable reason. 

Claims for unfair dismissal are governed by legislation.

An employment judge will consider at employment tribunal whether the employer's decision to dismiss the employee falls within a reasonable range of responses of a reasonable employer.  Although in theory the burden of proof in unfair dismissal cases is neutral, in practice it tends to fall on the employer.  Examples of potential unfair dismissals include: unfair selection for redundancy; where a performance improvement plan has been executed too quickly;  the employee has been set unachievable targets; where a dismissal is an unreasonable sanction given the misconduct or where the employee is treated inconsistently in comparison to other employees. That said, as with all cases, each case is considered on its own facts. 

In fact, cases that may be considered clear examples of unfair dismissal often overlap with a different area of employment law, such as discrimination or whistleblowing.

In general, an unfair dismissal case can only be brought if you’ve worked for your employer for at least 103 weeks and one day unless you’re dismissed for reasons including:

  • Exercising, or trying to exercise, a statutory employment right.
  • Falling pregnant.
  • Joining, or refusing to join, a trade union.
  • Discrimination.
  • Whistleblowing.
  • Issues related to Health and Safety.

Additionally, if your employer has made your position untenable through a fundamental breach of the employment contract, effectively forcing you to resign, this is known as constructive dismissal

THE EMPLOYER'S DISMISSAL PROCEDURE

The procedure which your employer follows on the run up to a dismissal will typically be outlined in a policy or the staff handbook.  Although, these procedures are rarely contractual, an employer would be expected to follow a procedure which complies with the ACAS Code of Practice.  If an employer fails to follow key parts of the procedure then this could result in up to a 25% increase in any award from the Employment Judge (if the case is successful).  

If you have a possible claim against your employer, the employer may wish to negotiate a settlement with you. Most cases never reach an employment tribunal and settle before the hearing with a settlement agreement. Indeed cases often settle before employment tribunal proceedings are issued especially as it is now compulsory (with some limited exceptions) for an employee to undergo ACAS early conciliation before being able to bring proceedings in an Employment Tribunal. 

If you believe you’ve been unfairly dismissed, or perhaps you want more information about your rights, we’re here to help.

For your initial free telephone consultation, please contact a member of the team today.