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If you have been dismissed from work for no good reason, or if your employer has failed to follow a fair procedure, then it is likely that your dismissal was unfair and you may be able to pursue a claim for unfair dismissal in an Employment Tribunal.
You may also read about Constructive Dismissal, which is where you are still in your job, but you feel that you’re being forced to leave.
Who can bring a claim for unfair dismissal?
You will need to have been an employee and employed by the same employer for at least two years in order to bring a claim for unfair dismissal compensation.
Before the two years service, there is no requirement for your employer to follow a procedure. As long as they give you proper notice, an employer can dismiss you without giving a reason.
Unfair dismissal claims not requiring 2 years service
There are some exceptions where 2 years of continuous employment is not needed in order to bring a claim for unfair dismissal. If the dismissal is one of the “automatically unfair” reasons as below, there is no qualifying period:
- Dismissal due to discrimination for example on grounds of age, sex, race, disability, sexual orientation or religious beliefs
- Health and safety reasons
- Pregnancy related dismissal
- Dismissal for Whistleblowing
- Dismissal related to asserting a statutory right
- Dismissal in relation to the national minimum wage
- Dismissal for refusing to work more than 48 hour working week
- Dismissal relating to Trade union membership/non membership
What makes a dismissal unfair?
If after two years of service you would like to know if your dismissal was unfair, you will need to look at the reasons given for the dismissal. There are five potentially fair reasons which make a dismissal fair:
- Where continued employment would be illegal
- Some other substantial reason
Therefore, for a dismissal to be fair after two years of continuous employment, the employer must demonstrate that they dismissed you for at least one of the above reasons.
If you have been given a potentially fair reason, the next thing to consider is whether a fair procedure was followed. If a fair procedure was not followed, then you still may claim for unfair dismissal, however, any compensation would be reduced to take into account that you would have been dismissed had the correct procedure been followed.
What a fair procedure is depends on the size and recourses of the employer, the investigation process and procedure followed. Another point to be considered is whether the dismissal was a reasonable response to the conduct alleged, i.e. was it proportionate?
As an example: For a capability dismissal, the employer should issue an employee with warnings and reasonable chances to improve. There should be an investigation and a fair hearing with the opportunity to bring a colleague. Finally there should be the right to appeal a decision to a higher level of management or a different manager. The ACAS Code of Practice is used by employment tribunals to measure whether the investigation process and procedure was fair. A failure to follow the ACAS Code may result in the employment tribunal finding that the dismissal was unfair.
Unfair dismissal settlement agreements
Employers quite often offer settlement agreements to settle a potential unfair dismissal claim by offering a sum of money so that they do not have to follow a dismissal procedure. If you are still employed and you have been offered a settlement agreement, do try to resist the temptation to accept the first offer and advise your employer that you will get back to them within a week or so, as this will give you time to obtain some proper advice.
If you have been dismissed already and your employer is willing to engage, we will be able to help you to negotiate a settlement agreement, which will set out the sum of money agreed and the terms that have been agreed between you and your employer in order to bring your employment relationship to an end, without the need to go to a tribunal.
How much should I be getting for my unfair dismissal settlement?
The maximum compensatory award in a tribunal for unfair dismissal is one year’s salary or £86,444, whichever is lower (as from April 2019). You do however have a duty to mitigate your loss and if you get a new job straight away on the same or more money, then you will not be entitled to any award at all.
Another element of unfair dismissal compensation is a ‘basic award’. This is around a week’s pay or £525 (whichever is lower) per year of service as of April 2019.
It is advisable to try to remain employed rather than quit or be fired, that way you can leverage a higher settlement from your employer because they will effectively pay you to leave.
How to bring a claim for unfair dismissal
The first step is to engage in the ACAS early conciliation process. You must start this process within 3 months less one day of the date of dismissal. If ACAS is unable to settle the matter during the conciliation process then you will be issued with an early conciliation certificate which will allow you to issue the unfair dismissal claim in the employment tribunal.
What should I do next?
If you feel that you have a claim for unfair dismissal please complete the enquiry form or call us on 0161 249 5087 and we will be happy to discuss your options and settlement options and/or guide you through the process of making an unfair dismissal claim.
We appreciate that this is often a difficult time and we offer a range of funding options to assist you.
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Use the contact form and or call us on 0845 555 0606 and our award winning legal team will contact you to find out how Versus Law can help you.