Unfair Dismissal Law

Was your dismissal unfair? If any of the statements below apply to you, your dismissal may be unfair.

  • your employer does not have a fair reason for dismissing you
  • your employer didn’t follow a fair process when dismissing you
  • you were dismissed for an automatically unfair reason (see list of reasons below)

The five fair reasons for dismissal

  • capability or qualifications
  • your conduct at work
  • redundancy (providing the reasons for selection are fair)
  • a statutory requirement (e.g. holding a driving licence)
  • some other substantial reason

Has your employer followed a fair process before dismissing you?

The ACAS Code of Practice recommends steps that an employer should take prior to dismissing an employee. There may also be a company disciplinary procedure that your employer should follow.

Automatic unfair dismissal

Some reasons for dismissal are automatically unfair. If your employer dismisses you for exercising one of your statutory employment rights you will have been automatically unfairly dismissed. An employee’s statutory employment rights include the right to:

  • a written statement of employment particulars
  • an itemised pay statement
  • a minimum notice period
  • maternity, paternity or adoption leave
  • time off for antenatal care
  • parental leave
  • time off for dependants
  • the right to request flexible working arrangements
  • not to be discriminated against because of your gender, race, disability, religion or belief, political opinion, sexual orientation or age
  • guaranteed pay when work is not available for you
  • time off for public duties (for example, jury service)
  • protection against unlawful deductions from wages
  • remuneration during suspension on medical grounds
  • refusing to do shop or betting work on a Sunday
  • making a public interest disclosure or ‘blowing the whistle’
  • time off to look for work or make arrangements for training prior to redundancy
  • time off for study or training

Other examples of Automatically Unfair Dismissal

Dismissal before, during or after business transfers

If the business you work for is being transferred to another company or taken over, you may be protected under the ‘Transfer of Undertakings’ (TUPE) protections.

Dismissal on the grounds of pregnancy or maternity rights

If you are pregnant, you cannot be fairly dismissed because of any reason connected with your pregnancy.

Dismissal in connection with disciplinary or grievance hearings

You have the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or colleague to a disciplinary or grievance meeting. You can also reasonably postpone the hearing if your companion cannot make it.

Dismissal relating to your working time

You normally have the right to paid leave, rest breaks, as well as limiting the average hours per week your employer can ask you to work, any dismissal for these reasons would be unfair

Dismissal relating to part-time or fixed-term work

As a part-time or fixed-term worker you should not be treated less favourably than a full-time or permanent employee.

Dismissal relating to trade union reasons

If you are dismissed for a reason around trade union membership, recognition or subscription funds it will be automatically unfair.

Dismissal during an industrial dispute

It is automatically unfair for your employer to dismiss you for taking part in legal industrial action that lasts 12 weeks or less. If the industrial action lasts longer than 12 weeks because your employer has not taken reasonable steps to resolve the dispute then you are protected from unfair dismissal.

Dismissal for taking action on health and safety grounds

You will have been unfairly dismissed if you are dismissed for carrying out any activities in your role as health and safety representative or for bringing to your employer’s attention a concern about health or safety in the workplace

Dismissal relating to activities as an employee representative

You cannot be fairly dismissed for being an employee representative for consultations with your employer about redundancies or business transfers.