Unfair Dismissal

Unfair Dismissal

Who can make a claim for unfair dismissal?

In order to make a claim for ordinary unfair dismissal, you must be an employee with no less than 2 consecutive years’ service.
This time frame may not apply if you qualify for an automatic unfair dismissal claim. For example, if you were dismissed because you “blew the whistle”, you do not need two years’ service to make a claim for unfair dismissal.

What are the time limits for making an unfair dismissal claim?

Time limits are strict and you must first engage in ACAS Early Conciliation within 3 months less one day from your effective date of termination.
You will not have a claim for unfair dismissal if the decision to dismiss is overturned at the point of appeal. In this case, the legal position is that your dismissal never took effect.

What is ACAS EC?

This is a required step in the majority of employment claims and if you fail to engage in this process within the required time limits you will be unable to bring your claim.
ACAS will act as an independent body between you and your employer to determine if an out of court settlement is possible in the first instance. If you are unable to resolve your dispute, they will issue you with an Early Conciliation Certificate which then enables you to lodge your claim in the Employment Tribunal. You cannot lodge your claim without this certificate.
Providing you adhere to the time limits set out above, you will always have a period of one month following the issue of your certificate from ACAS to lodge your claim. In some cases, you may have longer but you should always seek legal advice about this.

How does a Tribunal determine if you were unfairly dismissed?

They will first consider whether the reason for your dismissal is potentially a fair one, as set out in the Employment Rights Act 1996. An employer can fairly dismiss an employee for any of the following reasons:
  • misconduct
  • capability
  • redundancy
  • illegality
  • some other substantial reason
The Tribunal will then consider whether the decision to dismiss was reasonable in the circumstances. In order to do this, they will also take into account the fairness of any process followed. For example, whether there was a fair investigation prior to taking the decision to dismiss.
The Tribunal will also consider whether, in cases of misconduct or capability, the ACAS Code of Practice has been adhered to. Your employer’s failure to comply with this could potentially render the dismissal unfair or at the very least, increase compensation if you are successful with your claim.

Can your employer dismiss without notice?

The short answer is yes, if the reason for your dismissal is gross misconduct and your dismissal is found to be fair.
You should always seek legal advice about the likely prospects of succeeding with a claim for unfair dismissal and what potential compensation you may be likely to receive.


Please do get in touch without further delay if you believe you have been unfairly dismissed.