Legislation overview

Most of the provisions governing unfair dismissal are to be found in the Employment Rights Act 1996 as amended.

Numerous other pieces of legislation cross refer to unfair dismissal issues. Some important examples include:

  • Employment Act 2002 - for example, sections 29-44
  • Employment Relations Act 1999 - for example, sections 12, 34 and 37
  • Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 - for example, sections 152-167
  • The Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment ) Regulations 2000 (SI 2000/1551) - paragraph 2(2) of the schedule
  • The Fixed-Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment ) Regulations 2002 (SI 2002/2034) - Regulation 6(3)
  • The Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999 (SI 1999 No 3312)
  • The Public Interest Disclosure (Compensation) Regulations 1999 (SI 1999/ 1548)
  • The Unfair Dismissal and Statement of Reasons for Dismissal (Variation of Qualifying Period) Order 1999 (SI 1999/1436)
  • The Employment Act 2002 (Dispute Resolution) Regulations 2004 (SI 2004/752) - repealed on 6 April 2009
  • Employment Relations Act 2004 (Commencement No 3 and Transitional Provisions) 2005 (SI 2005/872)
  • The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/1031)
  • Employment Act 2008
  • The Employment Tribunal (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) (Amendment) Regulations 2008
  • The Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) (Amendment) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/131)
  • The Employment Equality (Repeal of Retirement Age Provisions) Regulations 2011
  • Unfair Dismissal and Statement of Reasons for Dismissal (Variation of Qualifying Period) Order 2012 (SI 2012/989) – came into force 6 April 2012 and applies to Great Britain
  • The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order - updated annually.

Northern Ireland

Some key legislation including the Employment Act 2008 and the Employment Tribunal (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) (Amendment) Regulations 2008 do not apply in Northern Ireland. Information and advice on dismissal are available on nibusinessinfo.co.uk website.

Wrongful dismissal

Unfair dismissal is entirely different from wrongful dismissal which is a long-established concept emanating from contract law. For more information on wrongful dismissal claims and damages, and how these differ from unfair dismissal claims, see our Wrongful dismissal Q&As.

Q: Do all employees qualify to bring an unfair dismissal claim?

Q: How can an employer avoid unfairly dismissing employees?

Q: Can older employees claim unfair dismissal?

Q: What procedure should be used when dismissing an employee?

Q: What reasons for dismissal are automatically unfair and what does this mean?

Q: What is the qualifying service period for claiming unfair dismissal?

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

Q: What is the process for bringing an unfair dismissal claim?

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

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

Q: What are the remedies for unfair dismissal?

Q: What does compensation for unfair dismissal consist of?

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

Q: An employee has resigned and is taking their employer to an employment tribunal for constructive dismissal. What does this mean?

Q: Can an employer dismiss an employee for incapability?

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

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

Q: 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?

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

Q: Will it constitute unfair dismissal for an employer to dismiss an employee for misusing the Internet or using Facebook or other social networking sites at work?

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

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

Q: What is 'some other substantial reason' for dismissal?

Q: Can fixed-term workers claim unfair dismissal?

Q: Are there any future developments expected in the area of unfair dismissal?

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