An employee who has been employed by the same employer for the required amount of time has the right not to be ‘unfairly dismissed’. This means that their employer can only dismiss them for one of a number of specific fair reasons and the dismissal must be fair in the circumstances (ie. the employer must follow a fair procedure and the decision to dismiss must be one of a range of reasonable responses available to a reasonable employer).
The specific fair reasons for dismissal are (1) statutory illegality, (2) redundancy, (3) conduct, (4) capability and (5) some other substantial reason. For someone employed on or after 6 April 2012, they must have worked for the same employer for at least two years’ before they have the right not to experience unfair dismissal. Anyone employed before 6 April 2012, only needs to be employed for one year before they have this right.
In addition, it is possible to be dismissed for some specific reasons, which are automatically unfair. For some, but not all of these reasons, the employee does not need the minimum period of continuous employment mentioned above.
An employee must present a complaint of unfair dismissal to an employment tribunal within the three-month period beginning with the effective date of termination, which is generally the date their employment ended. If successful in a claim of unfair dismissal, an employee can expect to receive a basic award (equivalent to a statutory redundancy payment) and a compensatory award (subject to a cap of £74,200 or, from 29 July 2013, one year’s salary, whichever is the lower), both of which may be subject to a number of deductions depending on the circumstances.
If you believe that you have been, or shortly will be, dismissed unfairly and would like advice on this, please telephone our specialist employment solicitor, Albert Bargery, on 01296 318508 to discuss this further.