What happens if I have been unfairly dismissed?

News Article

Whether you have been made redundant without substantial notice, sacked on the spot or asked to leave following a period of tension, losing a job can be a stressful experience – and in some cases, you might feel that your employer’s decision was unfair.

If you believe you have been unfairly dismissed, there are a number of steps you can take. However, from the date your employer lets you go, you will only have three months less one day to start taking action, so it is important to act fast and seek specialist advice as soon as you can.

Under existing laws, a dismissal is usually deemed ‘fair’ if an employer is able to demonstrate that you have been dismissed due to:

  • Your conduct
  • Genuine redundancy
  • A lack of capability or qualifications for the role
  • Illegality
  • A ‘substantial’ reason which clearly justifies your dismissal.

However, there are also a number of grounds which are automatically deemed ‘unfair’, such as if you are dismissed due to pregnancy, asserting a statutory right such as your right to the National Minimum Wage (NMW), or raising a whistleblowing concern.

Samantha Randall, a Solicitor in Palmers’ employment team, said: “Dismissals will usually be deemed ‘automatically unfair’ if the reason behind the dismissal relates to an employee simply exercising their rights, such as joining a trade union, whistleblowing or taking action on a health and safety issue.”

However, she said that in some cases, the distinctions between fair and unfair dismissal might not be so clear-cut.

“Even if the reason you have been dismissed would usually be deemed ‘fair’, such as poor conduct, for example, an Employment Tribunal might consider your dismissal ‘unfair’ if your employer did not act reasonably – i.e. they may not have followed fair disciplinary procedures before letting you go,” Samantha said.

Due to the complexities here, Samantha said that anyone who feels they have been dismissed unfairly should seek advice on a case-by-case basis.

“If your employer did not follow a reasonable procedure during the dismissal process, you might be able to take legal action against them and seek compensation,” she said.

However, Samantha warned that employees must have held their job for at least two years prior to being dismissed, or else they would not have earned the right to challenge their employer unless their dismissal is potentially automatically unfair in which a qualify period is not always required.

If you are concerned about issues relating to unfair dismissal or need advice on your employment law rights, please contact us.