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.

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