Employees have the right not to be unfairly dismissed. In most circumstances you will need at least one year's continuous service when your employment ends. If your employment started on or after 6 April 2012, you will need two years’ service.
However, there is no length of service requirement in relation to 'automatically unfair grounds'. Dismissals are classed as 'automatically unfair', regardless of the reasonableness, if you are dismissed as a result of exercising a specific right in relation to:
- pregnancy and maternity
- parental and paternity leave
- adoption leave or time off for dependants
- trade union membership and union recognition
- part-time and fixed-term employees
- discrimination because of: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation
- pay and working hours
The most common reasons for dismissal are:
These are known as “potentially fair reasons”. However, not only must your employer have a fair reason for dismissing you, they must also follow a fair procedure. In most cases, dismissal should be the last resort.
The Acas Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance sets out the principles for handling disciplinary situations, up to and including dismissal. Although the Code is not, in itself, legally enforceable, employment tribunals will take its provisions into account and you may be awarded increased compensation if your employer fails to follow it. (It does not cover redundancy or non-renewal of fixed-term contracts.)
Contact us for further information on dismissal.