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If you have been dismissed from your employment in England or Wales and believe that you have been treated unfairly, you may be entitled to compensation.

Our dedicated team of Employment solicitors are available to talk to you today about your case. Please read our information and advice pages below if you wish to learn more about this area of law.

Call our employment team on 0113 218 5459

Unfair dismissal: What is it? Who can claim?

Meaning of dismissal

Dismissal is defined as the termination of employment by:

  • The employer, with or without notice; or
  • The employee's resignation, with or without notice, where the employee has resigned because the employer by his or her conduct, in breach of the contract of employment, has shown an intention not to be bound by the contract (this is usually known as 'constructive dismissal') or
  • The expiry of a limited-term contract without its renewal. A limited-term contract is a contract for a fixed term or the performance of a specific task, or one which ends when a specified event does or does not occur

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Unfair Dismissal occurs when your employer dismisses you for an unfair reason and/or they do not follow the correct procedure for the dismissal.

A Claim for Unfair Dismissal must be submitted to an Employment Tribunal within three months less one day from the effective date of termination of the employment (usually the date of leaving the job).

Your dismissal may be deemed as “fair” if it was for one of the following reasons:

  • Conduct
  • Capability or qualifications for the job
  • Redundancy
  • Illegality
  • Some other substantial reason of a kind which justifies your dismissal

If your Employer is going to dismiss you they should:

  • Advise you that they are commencing a procedure that may culminate in your dismissal
  • Invite you to a meeting and inform you of their decision
  • Allow you the right to appeal your dismissal

To have an Unfair Dismissal claim, you need to consider:

  • Have you been employed for 2 years? If not, you cannot make a claim for Unfair Dismissal unless one of the statutory exceptions applies.
  • Was there a fair reason for your dismissal?
  • Was it reasonable for your employer to dismiss you?
  • Was a fair procedure followed?

In the vast majority of cases, before you can proceed to lodge a claim with the Employment Tribunal, you must notify ACAS of your intention to do so. ACAS will then offer the opportunity to use Early Conciliation. This is a process designed to enable the parties to settle their workplace dispute without going to tribunal. Reaching a settlement through conciliation is quicker, cheaper and less stressful for all concerned than a tribunal hearing.

The process involves submitting a form (Early Conciliation Notification Form) which is a very simple process by which you confirm the brief details of the dispute and the name of the employer. ACAS will then contact you to go through the information provided and explain the process. They will then contact your employer to see if they wish to engage in conciliation. If the matter is resolved, ACAS will deal with the necessary forms for you to sign. If the matter is not resolved, ACAS will then issue a certificate which then allows you to lodge a claim in the Employment Tribunal.

Unfortunately, there are no definite timeframes when bringing a claim in the Employment Tribunal. As a guide, the tribunal states that simple cases should be concluded within nine months of issuing proceedings. However, the time frame is often dependant on which part of the country your case is being heard and the type of claim.

This will depend on the type of claim that you want to make and whether you are still “in time” to bring a claim.

The majority of employment claims are brought in the Employment Tribunal, although certain claims can also be brought in the County Court. Examples of potential claims that can be brought within the Tribunal system include:

  • Unfair Dismissal
  • Constructive Dismissal
  • Sex Discrimination
  • Disability Discrimination
  • Sexual Orientation Discrimination
  • Gender Assignment Discrimination
  • Race Discrimination
  • Religion or Belief Discrimination
  • Age Discrimination
  • Unpaid Wages
  • Equal Pay
  • Unpaid Redundancy Pay Claims
  • Wrongful Dismissal

This is not an exhaustive list and there are also a number of other employment claims that can be brought in the Employment Tribunal, for example, TUPE claims, part-time worker regulations etc.

In most Employment Tribunal cases, there are strict three month/less one day time limits within which you can issue proceedings. These time limits usually begin to run from the termination date of your employment (unfair dismissal), date of your resignation (constructive dismissal) or from the incident of discrimination.

If you try and issue proceedings outside of this three month time limit, your claim will only be accepted in exceptional circumstances.

Exceptions to the three month time limit include cases regarding equal pay disputes and redundancy payment disputes when claims must be issued within six months.