What is Unfair Dismissal?

16:37 Mon 24th May 2010 |

Unfair dismissal is, to put it bluntly, when your employer terminates your contract without fair reason. Equally you can claim the reason was fair but the way the dismissal was conducted was unsatisfactory – you are protected by law against either of these situations.

Top 5 Reasons for Dismissal

There are five main reasons that employees are dismissed. These guidelines are set out by employment tribunals.

1.    Breaking The Law: this is the simplest and most clear cut reason for someone to be fired from their job. Breaking Criminal or Civil law is enough of a reason to remove someone from employment. This is because the companies name could be dragged into disrepute.
2.    Redundancy: the company must have a clear redundancy policy which you fit into; making random redundancies or singling someone out. This usually combines with a second reason for dismissal.
3.    Capability: if an employee has lied about their health, skills and qualifications or is simply incompetent there are grounds for dismissal. While this seems like something which can be abused by a vindictive employer it is quite hard to prove incompetence without strong evidence.
4.    Conduct: this includes theft, abusive behaviour, racist behaviour, taking time off without permission persistent lateness and almost anything which could be considered an error of conduct.
5.    Any Other Reason: this covers anything else which does not fall into other areas, such as refusing to work with others or certain equipment. This last rule is to be considered as a way of protecting companies from being sued by someone for unfair dismissal on purpose.

There is also such thing as “constructive dismissal,” this is dismissal by making it impossible for an employee to stay; it is engineered dismissal – forcing out someone from the company indirectly.

Dismissal Procedures

A fair dismissal is something most companiesare aim for; they do not need the bad press or hassle of an employment tribunal!

The key is for an employer to follow reasonable procedure. Typically this includes verbal warnings, written warnings, a documented attempt to resolve the situation, an opportunity to defend yourself and a final written warning.

A tribunal will attempt to find out if your employer gave fair indication of the problem and made attempts to resolve it. Using one rule for you and one for another is not considered reasonable.

The only time you can be fired on the spot is for “gross misconduct.” If you have committed gross misconduct you are likely to be in a position where you do not want to go back to work anyway.

Employment Tribunals

Taking a case of unfair dismissal to tribunal can be a scary process – you have to accuse someone you may have worked with for years of treating you unfairly. However true it may be it will always feel like a betrayal – the best thing to do is try and be as detached and professional as possible.

You will be asked to prove you have been unfair dismissed. The employer must prove that you have been treated fairly, that they followed proper procedure and that you have previously been made aware of all company rules. Keep all copies of correspondence and making notes of all actions surrounding your dismissal. This way you will be able to prove yourself as unfairly dismissed.

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