Fact Sheet – Unfair Dismissal

All employees who have been continuously employed by their employer for 2 years or more* have the right not to be unfairly dismissed by their employer.

An unfair dismissal arises where an Employer dismisses an employee for a reason other than one of the fair reasons set out in the Employment Rights Act 1996 and/or fails to follow the proper procedures in effecting the dismissal.

The fair reasons:

  • capability (performance or health)
  • Misconduct
  • Redundancy
  • Contravention of a Statutory duty or restriction ( where to continue to employ the employee would amount to a breach of the law)
  • Some other substantial reason  (a ‘catch-all’ provision which can cover certain circumstances that do not fall within the other categories highlighted above, but are genuine and substantial reasons why the employment cannot continue)
  • Some employees do not need to have completed the 2 year qualifying period in order to bring a claim. This applies where they are dismissed for an ‘inadmissible reason’.

Inadmissible reasons:

  • Asserting certain statutory rights
  • Health and safety reasons
  • Dismissal in connection with pregnancy or maternity

Some claims in connection with statutory rights can be brought by persons who are not employees but are workers.

*For employees who commenced employment on or after 6th April 2012. Employees who commenced employment prior to that date only need 1 year’s continuous employment.

Constructive dismissal

This is a type of unfair dismissal claim arising where the employee feels they have no choice but to resign as a result of the Employer committing a serious breach of the employment contract

Bringing Unfair Dismissal Claims

Claims of unfair dismissal are brought in the Employment Tribunal and must be brought within 3 months (less a day) of the dismissal date. Employees should normally use the Employer’s internal appeals procedure first.

Remedies for Unfair Dismissal

The Tribunal may award:

  • re-engagement
  • reinstatement
  • compensation

The most common remedy is Compensation. This will comprise:

Basic award: Calculated in the same way as redundancy pay, based on age, length of service and gross weekly pay (currently capped at £450 a week for dismissals on or after 1st February 2013.

Compensatory award: A small sum for loss of rights and a payment to reflect net loss of earnings arising from the dismissal
Current ceiling on the basic award is £13,500 and on the compensatory award £72,300 but there is no ceiling on the compensatory award in claims in relation to inadmissible reasons

Legal costs

There is currently no fee for issuing tribunal proceedings although this is under review. The normal rule is that each party bears their own legal costs win or lose.

Settling cases

The majority of cases are settled between the parties, either through the services of ACAS using a COT 3 agreement or by a Compromise Agreement

For more information contact Karen Bulfin at Bulfin & Co on 0208 866 0044 or by email: karen@bulfin.co.uk