If you feel you’ve been unfairly dismissed from a job, you may be able to make a claim through an employment tribunal.
If you win the case, you could be entitled to a basic award and a compensatory award. The basic award is worked out in the same way as redundancy pay, using age along with weekly pay and years employed. The compensatory award is the amount of money you’ve missed out on by being dismissed.
To begin a claim for unfair dismissal, you should:
- Begin the claim within three months of dismissal.
- Contact ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) to inform them of the dismissal.
- Fill out an ET1 employment tribunal form with details about the unfair treatment.
- Prepare your case, potentially using the help of a solicitor.
- Attend the tribunal with evidence. You may choose to have legal representation also.
It is recommended you get professional advice before starting a claim for unfair dismissal; there are strict guidelines and time scales to keep to, and you need to provide enough proof to support your claim.
For personalised advice about your situation, contact First4lawyers for access to one of our experienced employment law solicitors. It gives you the chance to gather impartial, no-obligation advice around unfair dismissal, and provides you with what you’ll need to decide your next steps.
What is unfair dismissal?
Unfair dismissal is when you feel your employer hasn’t followed the law or your contractual agreement when letting you go from your job.
You can claim if you think the cause given for the dismissal was not the true reason, or was unfair or unwarranted, or if you believe the employer acted unfairly during the dismissal process.
What counts as unfair dismissal?
There are some reasons for dismissal that are automatically deemed unfair. You may have a strong case if you can prove you were dismissed because of:
- Family commitments – including paternity leave, adoption leave and time off for dependants
- Acting as an employee representative or trade union representative
- Joining a trade union, or refusing to join a trade union
- Reasons relating to your working hours, such as being part time or fixed term
- Reasons relating to your annual leave
You also can’t be dismissed because of any discrimination that’s protected by law. These reasons include:
- Marriage or civil partnership
- Religious beliefs
- Sexual orientation
You may also have a case if you can show an employer acted unfairly during a dismissal. This could include:
- Giving no or limited notice in cases other than gross misconduct
- Failing to investigate any issues prior to dismissal
- Failing to follow internal procedures
- Not giving the employee a chance to offer their opinion about the situation
- Offering the employee an unsuitable alternative role in the event of redundancy
If you want to claim for unfair dismissal because of any of the reasons above, having evidence to show that your employer didn’t treat you fairly is important to the success of your case.
What doesn’t count as unfair dismissal?
There are times where the employee might feel like they’ve been unfairly dismissed, but doesn’t have a case. These are:
- Resignation – If you resign from your job and it isn’t a case of constructive dismissal, you can’t claim for unfair dismissal. To understand the difference, read our article about proving constructive dismissal; the process is slightly different from unfair dismissal.
- Suspension with full pay – If your employer suspends your role but continues to provide you with full pay, you can’t claim unfair dismissal.
- Job offer withdrawal – If you are offered a job role, but the employer changes their mind and withdraws the offer, you can’t claim unfair dismissal. However, if you left your previous role based on this job offer, and it was withdrawn for no solid, legal reason, you may be able to claim compensation.
How to start a claim for unfair dismissal
To claim unfair dismissal, you’ll need to attend an employment tribunal. We have complete detail in our guide, How to take your employer to a tribunal, but the basic steps are:
- Contact ACAS – The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service offers early conciliation, which you can choose to take or ignore. However, you must contact ACAS and inform it that you plan to take your employer to a tribunal.
- Submit the ET1 claim form – You can complete and submit the ET1 form. It’s the first thing the board will read, so it should be clear, professional and accurate.
- Notice of Acknowledgement – Once your form has been received, you’ll be sent a Notice of Acknowledgement. If you don’t receive one of these within a week of posting your EL1, contact the Central Office of Employment Tribunals, as it must be received within three months.
- Await your employer’s response – They can choose to offer compensation immediately, or agree to the tribunal. If they agree, they’ll submit an ET3 form, which you will be sent before the hearing.
- Attend the hearing – You’ll be sent a time and location for your hearing. This is usually within six months of your submission.
To learn in detail how to take your employer to a tribunal, read our dedicated guide for step-by-step advice.
Will I have to pay for an unfair dismissal claim?
All employment tribunal actions have costs which differ according to the claim. They all have a claim fee (which is paid while making the claim), and a hearing fee (which pays for the tribunal hearing itself).
Unfair dismissal fees include a £250 claim fee, and a £950 hearing fee. You may be able to receive help for these fees, but you cannot skip the fee.
Looking for more help with an unfair dismissal?
The time, energy and expense that goes into an unfair dismissal tribunal hearing means you could benefit from getting the very best advice available to help you win your case.
Our range of guides cover a number of employment law issues, including workplace bullying, constructive dismissal and employment tribunals. They can help you understand the basics, and how they may relate to your circumstances.
Speak with First4lawyers today for impartial, professional advice about your circumstances. Our employment law solicitors can help you to learn about what type of tribunal may best suit your situation, and will work to give you the best chance of winning.
Note: First4lawyers offers this information as guidance, not advice. Before taking any action, you should seek professional assistance tailored to your personal circumstances and not rely on First4lawyers’ online information alone. All details correct at time of last update.
Last updated: October 2016