Unfair Dismissal Explained

Through my work as an employment law solicitor at Hattons I have many employers who contact me asking for advice after finding they are facing claims of unfair dismissal.

It is important to note that employees must have been employed continuously for 12 months to be able to bring a claim for either unfair dismissal or constructive unfair dismissal.

There are exceptions to this rule. These can include (not an exhaustive list):

  1. If the dismissal was linked to carrying out Trade Union activities either outside of work hours or during the working day with the permission of the employer. Striking and working to rule are not within this exception as they are both breaches of an employee's contract
  2. If the dismissal was linked to the employee being a member of a Trade Union, refusing to join a Trade Union or where selection for redundancy was associated with a Trade Union activity/issue
  3. If the dismissal was linked to pregnancy and maternity rights
  4. If the dismissal was linked to health and safety obligations
  5. If the dismissal was linked to an employee asserting their rights under employment legislation
  6. If the dismissal was linked to Working Time Regulations
  7. If the dismissal was linked to an employee asserting their statutory rights with regards to minimum wage

Fair Reasons for Dismissal

There are Fair Reasons for dismissing an employee but if the dismissal was handled incorrectly the employee may have a claim for unfair dismissal. Fair Reasons for dismissal include:-

  1. Capability – qualifications, incompetence, health
  2. Conduct – theft, abusive behaviour, drug or alcohol abuse, confidentiality issues, regular absence, corruption and taking bribes etc... (Particularly relevant with the new Bribery Act coming into force on 1st April 2011)
  3. Redundancy – this is a dismissal under employment law and a dismissal procedure must be followed
  4. Breaking the law – i.e. work permit expired
  5. Any Other Substantial Reason – i.e. re-organisation of a department

Employers must show that they followed a 'fair' process when dismissing an employee.

Wrongful Dismissal

Wrongful Dismissal should not be confused with Unfair Dismissal. Wrongful dismissal is when an employer has breached an employee's contract of employment. These types of claims can be brought in the County Court or High Court as well as an Employment Tribunal depending on the value of the claim.

If you need to discipline an employee, which could lead to their dismissal, and you need advice in the procedure to follow then please contact our employment law solicitors here at Hattons Solicitors for timely, cost effective and practical advice.

Click here to visit Hattons main Unfair Dismissal website section

Written by Clive Mackintosh- Employment Law Solicitor

For employment law advise please contact our dedicated employment law solicitors FREE on 08000 111 303 or email clive.mackintosh@hattonssolicitors.com

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.


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