Our most frequently asked unfair dismissal questions:

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What is unfair dismissal?
Unfair dismissal is when an employee is dismissed from their job without the employer giving a fair reason for their dismissal or without carrying out the correct procedures to dismiss the employee.
What constitutes a fair dismissal?
A fair dismissal would be justified in the following circumstances and provided the employer carried out the correct procedures to dismiss:

  • Incapability – for instance, competence, qualifications or illness (provided the illness is not classified as a disability.);
  • Redundancy – if the employee is made redundant for legitimate reasons and a fair redundancy process is followed and selection is fair;
  • Gross misconduct or repeated misconduct – for instance, theft, drugs or alcohol abuse, leaking confidential information, repeated absence.

To see a full list of reasons, please click here.

Can I claim unfair dismissal?
Anyone is entitled to claim unfair dismissal, as long as:

  • They have worked for the employer for a minimum qualifying period of two years. If they have less than two years service, unfortunately it is unlikely they will succeed with a claim for unfair dismissal unless they qualify for automatic unfair dismissal;
  • They have a proper employment contract. Employees on a temporary contract or casual workers are unlikely to be able to claim for unfair dismissal;
  • They work in the UK;
  • They are below 65 years old.
What is automatic unfair dismissal?
Automatic unfair dismissal is when an employee’s fundamental statutory rights are violated, for instance if they are discriminated against. The employee does not need to have worked for the two year qualifying period in order to make a claim in these circumstances.
What is the basic award for unfair dismissal?
When an employment tribunal makes an award for compensation, it will be split into two parts, a basic award and a compensatory award.

The basic award for unfair dismissal is calculated based on several factors, these are age, length of service and the employee’s normal weekly pay as calculated in redundancy payments.

However the weekly pay is capped at £489/week (as of 6th April 2017) and the number of years worked is capped at 20.

A minimum basic award of £5,970 is given when as dismissal is made on the following grounds:

  • For being a trade union member or carrying out trade union activities.
  • For raising health and safety concerns as health and safety representative;
  • For carrying out jobs related to being an employee representative;
  • For carrying out jobs related to being a occupational pension scheme trustee.
What is the compensatory award for unfair dismissal?
The compensatory award is calculated in addition to the basic award. The employment tribunal determine this on what is just and equitable for the claimant. They base there decision on several factors including loss of earnings from the date of dismissal up to the hearing, loss of any benefits that they may have also been receiving and loss of any future earnings.

The compensatory award is capped at £80,541 (if the termination date was after 6th April 2017) and there is an additional cap of 52 weeks pay where the award falls below the overall cap.

This however does not apply in cases where health and safety concerns are raised or if an employee has made a protected disclosure and been sacked for it where there is no limit.

What if my employer doesn't carry out a disciplinary process?
Provided the employee has had continuous service of two years or more, the employer is obligated to carry out a thorough disciplinary process, this is to allow investigations to be carried out and ensure the employee is able to defend themselves. If the employer does not do this then the employee may have grounds to claim for unfair dismissal.