In some situations, workers can take legal action against their employer if they feel they have been a victim of unfair dismissal.
Employers may have unfair dismissal claims made against them in circumstances where they do not have a suitably justified reason for dismissing an employee or when legal procedures and processes have not been abided by.
There are key issues which employers cannot dismiss an employee because of, and if they do the worker may have grounds to make an unfair dismissal claim. A dismissal may be deemed to be unfair if the reason is based on any of the following:
• It is because of a request for flexible working from the employee
• The employee has refused to forego legal working rights, such as the right to rest breaks etc.
• The employee has handed in their resignation officially and followed the correct procedure and notice period guidelines
• The worker has joined a trade union or been a participant in lawful industrial action spanning less than 12 weeks
• The employee had to time take off work to carry out jury service
• The member of staff has put in a request for or taken maternity, paternity or adoption leave
• The employee attempted to lawfully claim Working Tax Credits
• The dismissed individual acted as a whistleblower to expose wrongdoing in the workplace
• The employee is forced to retire (without objective justification)
• The member of staff is on a part-time or fixed-term contract
• The worker has asserted a statutory right
While there are lots of rules and regulations around unfair dismissal, there are also guidelines as to what types of dismissals are fair. These include dismissals:
• that are grounded in matters related to unacceptable conduct at work or when representing the company
• that come about due to issues concerning the employee being fit for their job, such as qualifications and capability
• that can be justified by a “substantial reason”. This could include a business restructure, for example.
• Redundancies which follow the correct procedures.
Employees who began their contract before April 2012 need to have worked for a business for over a year in order to claim unfair dismissal. Due to a change in employment legislation, employees who started their employment after this date need to have been working in a job for two years before they can make a legitimate claim for unfair dismissal.
Employees who feel they have been unfairly dismissed or employers facing a claim for unfair dismissal should consult an employment lawyer who can assess and support their claim.