Making redundancies is never an easy time for employers, and a claim of unfair dismissal is the last thing any business wants to face.
Not only can it be time-consuming but it can result in monetary pay-outs as well. In England, Wales and Scotland in 2012/13 compensation was awarded in 1,884 unfair dismissal cases.
Successfully meeting the requirements of UK employment law is not always easy, and if a former employee has accused you of unfair dismissal, you can come to First4Lawyers for advice to help you build a case for your defence.
Contact our team of employment law specialists for help on the step to take to protect your business in future.
What is unfair dismissal?
There is a large number of circumstances in which the dismissal of an employee is automatically viewed as unfair under UK employment law, and if you are found to have made an employee redundant because of those circumstances, you could be found guilty of unfair dismissal.
Any employee that has served for two years in your employment can make a claim for unfair dismissal if they believe they have been laid off without a fair and reasonable dismissal procedure and a valid reason for their release.
The Employment Rights Act 1996 contains most of the provisions that govern unfair dismissal.
What might an unfair dismissal case cost?
If you are found to have unfairly dismissed an employee, an employment tribunal can order you to re-employ them, or pay compensation for the unfair dismissal. The basic award a court can order is up to £14,670. They may then make a large compensatory award to cover losses up to £80,541 - or 52 weeks gross salary - whichever is lower. You would also probably have to cover the court fees.
How can I protect my business against claims of unfair dismissal?
Taking advice from employment law solicitors can help you to ensure that your dismissal and redundancy process is fully compliant with the law.
They will assess your consultation process when making redundancies and dismissals to ensure it is appropriate and that it upholds certain responsibilities regarding your former employees’ future job prospects.
Your redundancy process must take into account whether other suitable jobs within the business were available for people who are being made redundant. If that was the case and you failed to offer one to that person, you could be taken to an employment tribunal for unfair dismissal.
It is possible, however, to use solicitors with employment law experience to help you to implement a procedure that does not allow for discrimination to occur when making dismissals. This is hugely important, given the potential cost to your business if you are found to have discriminated when making a dismissal.
The law prevents employers from dismissing employees or making people redundant on the basis of their age, disability, gender, marriage status, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion, or sexual orientation.
I have been accused of unfair dismissal – what should I do?
If you have received a claim for unfair dismissal, you will be required to attend an employment tribunal.
A qualified employment law practitioner, like those First4Lawyers works with, will look to assess your case, build the strongest possible defence, and represent you in the tribunal itself.
If you require assistance or representation, or if you would simply like to discuss the way that employment law affects your current business circumstances, you can contact First4Lawyers for a conversation about your situation.