Overview

Unfair dismissal is entirely different from wrongful dismissal, which is a long-established concept derived from contract law. Most of the provisions governing unfair dismissal are to be found in the Employment Rights Act 1996. Numerous other pieces of legislation cross-refer to unfair dismissal issues.

Some employees don’t qualify to bring unfair dismissal claims. To present a claim for unfair dismissal, an employee must:

  • have been dismissed
  • be an employee and not a worker
  • be employed for the requisite qualifying period*
  • commence the claim within three calendar months of dismissal
  • not be within the excluded categories (for example, the armed forces)
  • not be an employee shareholder – although few employees fall into this category, they will be unable to claim unfair dismissal.

*Except where the employee has been dismissed for an automatically unfair reason that does not require a qualifying period (see ‘What reasons for dismissal are automatically unfair and what does this mean?’).

Northern Ireland

Some key legislation, including the Employment Act 2008 and the Employment Tribunal (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) (Amendment) Regulations 2008, does not apply in Northern Ireland. Specific information is available from nibusinessinfo.co.uk.

What reasons for dismissal are automatically unfair?

What is ‘some other substantial reason’ for dismissal?

What is constructive dismissal?

How can an employer avoid unfairly dismissing employees?

Is it necessary to have a separate capability management procedure rather than use the disciplinary procedure for dismissal?

Q: When do dismissals and resignations actually take effect and what issues can arise surrounding them?

What procedure should be used when dismissing an employee?

Can an employer avoid unfair dismissal claims by dismissing employees one week before their continuity of employment has accrued?

Can an employer dismiss an employee for incapability?

Can an employer dismiss fairly for misconduct where there is a personality clash between employees?

Can employees be dismissed for misusing the internet at work?

In a misconduct case does the employer have to investigate every possible aspect before dismissing, and to what extent is an employee’s previous good conduct relevant?

Can an employer dismiss an employee if it would be illegal for them to continue their job?

Can older employees claim unfair dismissal?

Can fixed-term workers claim unfair dismissal?

What is the qualifying service period for claiming unfair dismissal?

After being dismissed, what is the time period in which an employee may bring a claim for unfair dismissal?

What is the process for bringing an unfair dismissal claim?

What is the role of Acas in an unfair dismissal claim?

What factors will an employment tribunal use to determine whether a dismissal for misconduct is fair?

What are the remedies for unfair dismissal?

What does compensation for unfair dismissal consist of?

How are the basic and compensatory awards for unfair dismissal calculated?

Future developments

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Factsheets

Dismissal procedures

Introductory guidance on dismissal focusing on unfair dismissal, including advice on how to follow a fair dismissal procedure

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