Losing your job can be devastating. If you have been dismissed you may be able to take legal action.
An employer can only dismiss an employee fairly if the dismissal is for one of the following five fair reasons:
- Conduct – generally this relates to poor behaviour and misconduct
- Capability – an employee being unable to perform their role fully (missing targets, etc.) or being medically incapable of performing their role
- Statutory restriction – an employee can be dismissed if it would be unlawful for them to do their job (e.g. an employee who drives for a living loses their driving licence)
- Some other substantial reason
Once the employer has established that a dismissal is for one of the above, potentially fair, reasons they must also undertake a fair and reasonable dismissal process. Such processes usually include:
- Being notified in writing of the relevant issues
- Receiving copies of all relevant evidence
- Being invited to a meeting where an employee can be accompanied by a companion (usually limited to a trade union representative or a fellow colleague)
- Having the right of appeal to any disciplinary sanctions issued
To be able to make a claim for unfair dismissal you will need to have been employed for two years or more. However the two year rule does not apply if you are able to demonstrate that you were dismissed for one of the following reasons:
- Pregnancy or maternity leave
- Whistle blowing (raising a protected disclosure)
- Health and safety concerns
- Seeking to assert a statutory right (rights an employee has under the Employment Rights Act 1996 for example entitlement to weekly and daily rest breaks, working a maximum of 48 hours each week and annual leave entitlement.)
- Trade union membership or activity
- Potential infringements of the Working Time Regulations 1998
- Potential infringement of the right to be auto-enrolled into a work place pension
If you have been dismissed and want to pursue a claim for unfair dismissal in the employment tribunal there are strict limitation periods that you must be aware of. Failure to issue a claim in time can (and often does) lead to the claim being rejected.
Within three months less one day of dismissal you must commence Early Conciliation with ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service). This process “pauses” the limitation process for usually six weeks to allow the parties the opportunity to settle the dispute without the need for litigation in the employment tribunal.
Following the conclusion of the Early Conciliation process, a claim in the employment tribunal must (usually) be issued within one month. Please note that your own situation may differ and therefore you should consider taking legal advice to determine the limitation period in your own case. It is important to be aware of the correct limitation period as a failure to issue a claim on time often means the claim will be rejected by the employment tribunal.