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Have you been a victim of unfair dismissal?

We know how stressful being sacked from your job can be, and that can be intensified if you’ve been the victim of unfair dismissal.

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What is unfair dismissal?

Quite simply, unfair dismissal occurs when you are fired from your job for reasons that UK law deems unjust. It can also occur when your employer has a fair reason for firing you but did not follow the correct procedure.

Unfair dismissal is not the same thing as wrongful dismissal. Wrongful dismissal relates to the terms of your contract, whereas unfair dismissal relates to your statutory rights (gov.uk website).

Am I eligible to make a claim for unfair dismissal?

To be eligible to make a claim for unfair dismissal, you must have been working continuously for the same company for two years. However, there are certain reasons for dismissal which a tribunal may deem unfair, no matter how long you have been employed by the business. The law refers to this as automatic unfair dismissal (Citizens Advice website).

Was I fired for legitimate reasons?

There are five main legitimate reasons why your employer may fire you. These include the following:

  • Capability
    If you lied about your qualifications or health, or you don’t have the skills to do the job.
  • Conduct
    This may include all sorts of wrongdoing. These vary from (but are not limited to) theft of company information or property, to taking time off without permission, to frequent lateness, to abusive or racist behaviour.
  • Redundancy
    If employers wish to cut down on their workforce, they must have a clear procedure and stick to it. They must not make seemingly random redundancies or appear to have singled anyone out for redundancy. To be a genuine redundancy, the employer must not refill the same position.
  • Breaking the law
    This more clear-cut. Breaches of criminal and civil law outside of working hours may constitute gross misconduct.
  • Refusal to work with equipment or a colleague
    This is deliberately wide in scope to give employers protection against those trying to get fired in order to bring a case of unfair dismissal.

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Did my employer use the correct procedure to fire me?

Your employer must follow a formal and reasonable procedure to sack you. Your employee handbook should contain information regarding the correct process. This may include verbal warnings, written attempts to resolve the issue and written final warnings.

UK law considers constructive dismissal to be unfair. This occurs when you have little choice but to resign due to abusive or intimidating behaviour. This can be difficult to prove so it is important to gather as much information as you can.

How will my compensation be calculated?

Compensation for unfair dismissal consists of two elements: the basic award and the compensatory award. 

The basic award is a statutory amount up to £14,670. The tribunal will calculate the basic award using a fixed statutory formula (Citizens Advice website).

Your compensatory award takes into account your losses and is based on the amount of time you have been affected by your dismissal. This is capped at a maximum of £80,541, or a year's salary - whichever is the lower.

 

I am a victim of unfair dismissal – what should I do?

There are many processes involved in seeking a claim for unfair dismissal. This should start with an informal meeting between you and the employer.

If still unresolved, the case requires the involvement of ACAS; an organisation set up to mediate and seek early resolution. If you still cannot settle your case after mediation, then you may take your claim to an employment tribunal.

At First4Lawyers our employment law solicitors have experience in unfair dismissal cases. Our advisors can discuss your situation with you and put you in touch with a suitable expert for your needs. 

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