Employment

Help! I’ve Been Sacked From My Job

A Guide to Wrongful and Unfair Dismissal Being dismissed from your job is a stressful, humiliating experience.  If you believe the reason for the dismissal was wrong or unjust, then you have a right to challenge your employer’s decision in the Employment Tribunal and claim compensation. This guide will help you navigate the steps to take when making a claim against your employer.  It is separated into two parts – wrongful dismissal and unfair dismissal.

Wrongful Dismissal

What is wrongful dismissal?

Wrongful dismissal is where the dismissal is in breach of a person’s employment contract.  If someone is wrongfully dismissed, they may claim compensation for all financial and other benefits that would have been received had they been dismissed in compliance with their contract (i.e., had they remained employed until the end of their notice period, or until the end of the contract's fixed term).

What is a ‘duty to mitigate’?

If you have been wrongfully dismissed, then you must take steps to mitigate your loss.  For example, you need to show you have made an effort to find new employment and generally act as you would if you did not expect to receive any compensation.

Unfair Dismissal

How long do I have to bring a claim for unfair dismissal against my employer?

You must bring a claim for unfair dismissal within three months of your employment being terminated.

What is classed as an unfair dismissal?

Unfair dismissal is where your employer lacked a fair reason for terminating your employment.  There are six grounds for dismissing an employee, and the burden of proof is on the employer to prove that one of the grounds was established if you bring a claim.

The six grounds are:

  • your conduct
  • your capability or qualifications required to do the job
  • retirement
  • redundancy
  • for some legal reason, you can no longer perform all or part of your duties, (e.g., you have lost your driver’s license and your position required you to drive)
  • there was some other ‘substantial reason’ to justify your dismissal, (e.g., you assaulted a fellow staff member)

What is automatically unfair dismissal?

If you have been dismissed for a reason that is considered ‘automatically’ unfair under English law, then your employer has no defence to your claim for unfair dismissal and the Employment Tribunal is not obliged to take into account the reasonableness of your employer's actions.

Examples of reasons that are considered automatically unfair include:

  • being dismissed for having one of the nine protected characteristics under the Equality Act
  • being selected unfairly for redundancy
  • being pregnant
  • participating in an industrial dispute
  • voicing health and safety concerns

What is ‘procedural’ unfairness?

Even if an employer has a fair reason for dismissing you, it may still be deemed unfair if the proper procedural process for dismissal was not followed.

For example, if your employer failed to give you warnings about your behaviour or did not consult with you about upcoming redundancies then the dismissal may be seen as procedurally unfair.

What are the remedies for unfair dismissal?

The Employment Tribunal can grant two remedies;

reinstatement to your position; and/or

compensation

Making a claim for unfair dismissal can be a complex progress, so it is advisable to seek professional legal advice to ensure your case has the best chance of succeeding.


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