Getting the sack from your job can be a hugely distressing and sometimes humiliating experience, especially when you believe you’ve done nothing wrong to warrant being fired.
Fortunately, you are protected by law if your employer did not have fair reason to dismiss you or if you did have fair reason but handled your dismissal using the wrong procedure.
To assess whether you have a case perhaps it will help if we first outline causes for fair dismissal. These Include:
● You’ve been made redundant
Your employer needs to prove that your role no longer exists before you’re made redundant but once that is established you’ll be offered compensation according to your length service and terms of contract.
● You can’t do the job
An employer can dismiss you if you are not capable of doing the job, for example if you lack the qualifications or are ill but before they do that they need to offer you extra time and support to help you reach the expected performance level.
This covers a wide number of things, from stealing from your employer to refusing to follow management instructions. And the misconduct doesn’t have to happen in the workplace. Think of the man who this year harassed Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty. He was immediately dismissed from his role.
● A legal reason
Maybe you have lost your right to work in the UK. This would be a legitimate cause for dismissal.
● Some other substantial reason
This means your employer has to have a very good reason for giving you the sack. There can be other reasons too, why your dismissal will be considered fair, which is why it is always best to get an expert opinion.
If you’re pretty sure that none of these reasons apply to you, or do not follow the company’s formal disciplinary or dismissal process then maybe you have a case for unfair dismissal.
There are certain instances where it is absolutely clear that you have an unfair dismissal case. These are categorised under automatically unfair.
- It’s always ‘automatically unfair’ if you’re dismissed because you:
- Are pregnant or on maternity leave.
- Have asked for your legal rights at work, e.g. to be paid minimum wage.
- Took action about a health and safety issue.
- Work in a shop or a betting shop and refused to work on a Sunday.
- Are a trade union member and took part in trade union activities including official industrial action or you were acting as an employee representative.
- Have reported your employer for wrongdoing, (whistleblowing).
Other reasons that might be considered include:
- You asked for flexible working hours.
- You refused to give up your rights during work such as taking rest breaks.
- Needed time off for jury service.
- Applied for maternity, paternity or adoption leave.
- You were on maternity, paternity or adoption leave.
- Tried to enforce your right to receive Working Tax Credits.
- Were forced to retire – compulsory retirement is not allowed unless your employer can objectively justify it.
- You have been discriminated against.
You might be discriminated against if you are:
- Pregnant or on maternity leave.
- From a particular race, ethnicity or country.
- Married or in a civil partnership.
- A man or a woman.
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual.
- Have a particular religion or set of beliefs.
- Older or younger than the people you work with.
You can be dismissed if you fall into one of these categories but it cannot be the reason why you are being sacked.
Constructive dismissal is different from unfair dismissal. It is when you’re forced to leave your job against your will because of the conditions you have to work under. The reasons you cite must be serious and may include:
- Not being paid or getting demoted for no reason.
- Your employer forces you to accept unreasonable changes in the workplace, for example they may make you work night shifts when in fact you only signed up to work days.
- Your employer allows you to be bullied or harassed by other employees in the workplace.
If you have a case for constructive dismissal you should immediately quit your job as your employer could argue that by staying you agreed to the conduct or treatment.
What should I do if I think I have a case for unfair dismissal?
You can begin by talking to your employer to sort out the dispute.
If your employer does not resolve the situation you can challenge it by appealing through the employer’s appeal process. They should tell you how to do this. If you want to take things further then you can make a claim to an employment tribunal.
You need to have:
- Employee status and have worked for the employer for two years unless you’ve been dismissed for an ‘automatically unfair’ reason – then it does not matter how long you’ve been in their employment.
- A claim must be made within 3 months less one day of the dismissal.
- You must tell Acas first that you want to make a claim. Acas will offer the option of ‘early conciliation’, a free service where Acas talks to both the employee and employer. It gives them the chance to come to an agreement without having to go to tribunal.
What are the laws surrounding unfair dismissal?
Workers are protected under the Employment Rights Act 1996 from being sacked or chosen unfairly for redundancy.
The Act covers areas such as unfair dismissal, redundancy payments, protection of wages, zero hour contracts, Sunday working, suspension from work, flexible working and termination of employment.
If you feel you are a victim of unfair dismissal Liverpool and want to discuss where you go next then we are here to help. Our experts in employment law will assess whether we can take your claim forward and discuss your options, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch with at: