Unfair Dismissal

What is Unfair Dismissal?

A dismissal will be unfair unless it is for one of the five statutory fair reasons and the procedure adopted by the employer fair.

Who’s entitled to bring a claim for unfair dismissal?

Only employees as opposed to the self-employed or workers. Usually an employee must have two years complete service to bring a claim, unless the reason for dismissal is an automatically unfair reason in which case no minimum service is required. For example dismissal in connection with pregnancy or because of whistleblowing would be an automatic unfair dismissal.

The five statutory fair reasons

  1. Capability – for example if you can’t do your job due to illness or lack of skill or ability.
  2. Conduct – this could be gross misconduct or a less serious breach of standards or rules.
  3. Redundancy.
  4. Illegality.
  5. Some other substantial reason – a miscellaneous case-law developed set of fair reasons.

A fair procedure

What amounts to a fair procedure will depend on the reason for dismissal. A procedure in a capability situation, for example where the employee is ill and unfit to work, will require a very different procedure to a redundancy scenario.

Generally speaking an employer is normally required to consult the employee (and provide relevant documents) before it makes a decision. This usually means inviting the employee to a meeting to give the employee an opportunity to respond before a decision is made. For more detailed information on procedures and issues to be considered for each of the above reasons, click on the links above.