Unfair Dismissal Claim – A Definite Guide by a Professional Solicitor

How to Claim Unfair Dismissal from job

If you have reasonable grounds to believe that you were unfairly dismissed from your workplace, you have all the right to pursue a legal claim against the employer through an employment tribunal and get an adequate remedy. The ‘Employment Rights Act 1996’ (hereinafter “the Act”) is the statutory regime overseeing the relevant rules required for such a claim.

Prerequisites To File An Unfair Dismissal Claim

In order to make sure that your concerns are appropriately addressed, certain preliminary hurdles must be crossed. The time limit to make a claim to an employment tribunal is three months minus one day from the date of dismissal. So you need to file a claim before the limit expires. In addition to this, there is a requirement to notify the Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service (ACAS) about the dismissal, which is an organisation working towards the early resolution of such disputes. These are preliminary matters that need to be dealt with before filling out the ET1 form online; care should also be made to intelligibly and accurately detail all the reasons in it, as it forms the very basis of your claim.

Determining ‘(Un)Fairness’

Once the case reaches the tribunal, the only thing you need to initially show is that you were an employee (not an independent contractor etc.) for a minimum of two years and were actually dismissed. This would immediately put the burden of proof on the employer to prove several things. Firstly, he would need to prove that (a) the dismissal falls within the ambit of the grounds enshrined in section 98(2) of the Act:

  • Capability
  • Conduct
  • Redundancy
  • Illegality
  • Other substantial reasons.

Assumingly, even if the employer proves that the dismissal was due to one or more of the potentially ‘fair’ reasons above, the tribunal would move further into assessment and ask whether (b) considering all the surrounding circumstances, the employer acted ‘reasonably’ “… in treating it as a sufficient reason for dismissing the employee” [s.98(4)(a) of the Act]. This shows that the tribunal is looking for an objective standard of proof. Moreover, it is also upon the employer to prove that (c) the dismissal process adopted by the employer was procedurally fair. For the purposes of fairness, all of this would need to be determined in accordance with “…equity and the substantial merits of the case.” [s.98(4)(b) of the Act]. The tribunal would assess all the evidence that you provide in your support, and provided it holds the better ground against the employer’s defence, the case will be yours to win.

Perhaps an even stricter condition for the employer lies in the fact that the dismissal would be deemed as ‘automatically unfair’ if the reason(s) inter alia, fall under the following:

  • Familial urgencies
  • Being an active trade union representative
  • Invoking any of your basic statutory rights
  • Whistleblowing
  • Discrimination (Age, Gender, Religion, Ethnicity, Sexuality etc.)

If you can back up your claim on any of these grounds, the dismissal would automatically be ruled unfair. Moreover, the minimum two-year employment rule does not apply here, as these reasons are exempted under s.108 of the Act. Consequently, if you have experienced any of these circumstances, and provided you can back it up with evidence, your chances of succeeding in the tribunal increase significantly.

Remedy: What To Expect?

If the tribunal agrees that the dismissal was indeed unfair and rules in favour of your claim, you will be entitled to receive a remedial award. There is a ‘basic award’ which is granted generally by considering factors such as the claimant’s age, duration of service and the paid wage. The other award is the ‘compensatory award’, which is calculated under s.123 of the Act, by what the tribunal “…considers just and equitable in all the circumstances having regard to the loss sustained by the complainant in consequence of the dismissal”.  Note, however, that the awards are liable to be reduced if the tribunal finds that the employee adversely contributed to the dismissal and/or did not do enough to mitigate the loss. Nevertheless, as long as it can be shown that the loss suffered is directly attributable to the employer’s action in dismissing you, then you are likely to be sufficiently compensated with equity’s grace.

Better Your Chances

As a claimant, you need to focus on ways that put the employer under scrutiny for his actions. You can even seek detailed written reasons for your dismissal, which would help bring clarity to your approach in the claim. It is advised that the reasons and all the circumstances surrounding your dismissal be assessed first before adopting a suitable course of action. Needless to say, it is important that your side is corroborated with cogent grounds and evidence at every point, giving the tribunal better reasons to uphold your claim and grant a satisfactory remedy.


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