unfair dismissal UK

Do you think you were dismissed unfairly?

Losing your job is very stressful and you may think that you have been treated unfairly in your dismissal. Although employers are entitled to dismiss employees, there are strict regulations governing dismissals and if you were dismissed unfairly, you are entitled to contest this dismissal.

To check whether your dismissal was illegal you must first confirm the following, and you need to act fast as you are only allowed to contest a dismissal up to 3 months less a day from the date when you were dismissed:

  • What is your employment status: are you an employee, worker or self-employed;
  • Does the law state the reason you were dismissed is illegal?
  • How long have you been employed with this employer? Usually you can only contest your dismissal if you’ve been in your current employment for over 2 years.

Can you do anything to contest your dismissal? Follow the next steps to confirm whether you actually have a case for wrongful dismissal.

1. First of all, confirm your employment status

You can only make a claim for unfair dismissal if you are an employee (even if you are a part-time or fixed-term employee)

Regrettably, if your employment status falls under any of the fallowing, you have no rights to challenge your dismissal:

  • self-employed
  • a worker from an agency or classified as a ‘worker’
  • a police officer or in the armed forces
  • a registered dock worker
  • working overseas or for a foreign government
  • a share fisherperson

Your employment status can be confirmed here. If you are an employee, you should have rights to contest an unfair dismissal. If you are not entitled to such rights, you can still ask your employer to review and reconsider their decision to dismiss you.

2. Make sure that you have actually been sacked

You can only contest a dismissal if you can prove that it has actually taken place. You have been sacked if you can show that your employer has done one or more of the following:

  • Terminated your contract of employment
  • Has not renewed your fixed-term contract
  • Has declared your redundant
  • Has dismissed you for taking part in industrial action, such as going on strike
  • Has stopped you from returning to work after being on maternity leave.

You will need to show proof of your dismissal and this can be anything from an official letter to texts or email messages from your employer.

You were not officially dismissed if you are suspended or if you resigned by choice. However, if you were pressured to resign in any way you may still have grounds to challenge this situation as this could be termed as ‘constructive dismissal’.

3. Confirm what reason is being given for your dismissal

You should ensure that your employer gives you a reason for your dismissal. If you are pregnant or have employed for at least 2 years, you are entitled to an explanation in writing.

If you have been dismissed for a reason that is deemed by law to be ‘automatically unfair’ or discrimination, you can definitely challenge it. The following reasons for dismissal are deemed as ‘automatically unfair’:

  • You are a member of a trade union and took part in an activity of the trade union, including industrial action;
  • If you have requested for something that is your legal right such as being paid at the minimum wage;
  • If you work in a shop and have declined working on Sunday;
  • If are pregnant or are on maternity leave;
  • If you took action about an issue that affects health & safety;
  • If you have reported your employer for any malpractice.

If you have been employed for over 2 years, it is also ‘automatically unfair’ if you are dismissed:

  • Because you have not declared a past conviction;
  • Because the business is being sold or transferred.

If you think you were dismissed because you were discriminated against for any one of the following reasons, you will also be entitled to redress because you are of a particular ethnicity or religion or with a particular set of beliefs;

  • Are of a particular sex or sexual orientation;
  • Are pregnant or on maternity leave;
  • Have a disability or special needs;
  • Are married or in civil union;
  • Are of a specific age: older / younger than your work colleagues.
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