Your Rights: Unfair Dismissal

September 24, 2013 3:16 pm

When an employer dismisses and employee, there must be a valid reason. You must also be given the notice period (which you’ll find specified within your contract) or the statutory minimum notice period (whichever is longer). However, you can be dismissed immediately in some situations; for example, gross misconduct.

You have a right to have your dismissal put down in writing, if you’ve been an employee for more than one year and your employer must provide this statement within 14 days.

Your employer should give you a written statement, if you’ve been dismissed while on Statutory Maternity Leave, even if you haven’t asked for one. In this case, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been working at the company – it’s your right.

When Is Dismissal Considered ‘Fair’?

unfair dismissal

When you can’t do your job properly anymore, due to colleague disputes or being unable to keep up with important job changes, you can be dismissed. However, your employer must first give the situation a chance to improve and do all he or she can to rectify the situation. Training, for example, or offering you a final opportunity to improve your relationship with your colleagues.

Unless you have a long-term illness that is classed as a disability, you may be fired from your job fairly. That is, if it isn’t the job itself making you feel unwell – in this case, changes must be made.

If you have shown ‘gross misconduct,’ such as being violent, it’s possible to fire you on the spot. Also, if it’s impossible for you to continue working (the office has been knocked down by an earthquake or you’re a driver and you’ve lost your licence, for example), then you can be dismissed. Nevertheless, the employer and employee is changing, particularly with more emphasis towards the employer, so tactfulness by employees is even more significant.

Unfair Dismissal

Your employer’s reason for dismissing you must be convincing and they must follow the company’s dismissal process. You’re likely to have been unfairly dismissed if you asked for flexible hours, refused to give up your rest break, resigned (and worked within the right notice period), supported your trade union, asked for maternity/paternity/adoption leave (or was on this leave), whistleblew, or were forced to retire without good reason.

It also counts as ‘unfair dismissal’ if you were forced to leave your job, due to your employer’s bad conduct. If they didn’t pay you or demoted you, that counts as constructive dismissal (unlawful). Furthermore, if your employer let colleagues bully or sexually harass you, your employer also broke the law.

What Should You Do If You’re Dismissed?

Contact a mediation service or speak to your trade union representative. If you can’t resolve your issues, you can go to an employment tribunal. However, to take this step you will have had to have worked at the company for 2 years (if you started from 6 April 2012) or 1 year (from before 6 April 2012).

You must take your claim to the employment tribunal within 3 months of being dismissed.

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