Unfair Dismissal

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Charlotte Woolven-Brown


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At Healys, we help employees who are facing unfair or wrongful dismissal. Our experience and professionalism means you can have confidence in our solicitors to help get you the best outcome possible.

What Is Unfair Dismissal?

Dismissal is the termination of employment with or without notice. Constructive dismissal is where the employee has resigned because the employer is either in breach of the employment contract or shows an intention that they will not be binding with the contract, or the expiration of a short-term contract without its renewal.

Dismissal is fair if the employer can show that the employee was dismissed for one of the following reasons:

  • The employee’s qualification or capability for the job
  • The employee’s conduct
  • The retirement of the employee
  • Redundancy (i.e., the need for the work to be done has been diminished)
  • A statutory restriction which prevents the employment being continued
  • Any other substantial reason which could justify dismissal

The Employment Tribunal will decide if a dismissal was fair or not by considering whether the employer followed appropriate disciplinary procedures, and where the statutory procedures apply and have not been complied with, a dismissal will be deemed unfair.

Employers should always follow the correct procedure when dismissing an employee; an instant dismissal without adherence to the correct procedure will usually lead to a successful unfair dismissal claim. For example, if the employee is accused of misconduct, a disciplinary hearing should be called, and the employee given a chance to be heard before being dismissed. If an employer wishes to defend an unfair dismissal claim, he/she will need to show that the employee was dismissed for a fair reason.A fair reason would include the employee’s conduct or capability; for redundancy reasons; or for any other substantial reason (the employer must show they acted reasonably in coming to their decision). In cases of dismissal because of retirement, the fairness of the dismissal will depend on whether the employer complied with the duty to consider working beyond retirement. In a redundancy situation, the employer will also be expected to consult with the employees affected and carry out a fair selection process.

It should be noted an employee will usually need to be continuously employed for two years before they can make an unfair dismissal claim, although it is important to be aware that there are exceptions to the 2-year rule.

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How We Can Help

If you feel you have been wrongfully dismissed, our employment solicitors can help. Unfair dismissal law is complex, and we may find there have been discrimination issues that need to be addressed. We will seek to settle your claim through negotiation using a settlement agreement and we can represent you at an Employment Tribunal.

Time Limits in Employment Tribunal Cases

There are time limits that apply to the presentation of employment claims at the Employment Tribunal.  This is as short as within three months from the dismissal. You must also start ACAS Early Conciliation before approaching the Tribunal. You are advised, therefore, to get in touch with our solicitors as soon as you have been dismissed. Late applications will be considered if the tribunal is satisfied that it was impractical for the employee to have made the complaint within the three-month period, and that the employee applied within a reasonable time given the circumstances.

If you are looking to initiate or defend an unfair dismissal case, get in touch with our specialist employment lawyers. Our team of employment solicitors have a wealth of expertise and experience in the field of employment and a proven track record and can see you smoothly and swiftly through the entire process.

How Much Compensation Will I Get in an Unfair Dismissal Claim?

The remedies for unfair dismissal are either the basic award, a compensatory award, reinstatement or re-engagement.

Basic award

The basic award is calculated as:

  • 1.5 weeks’ pay for each whole year of service after the age of 41
  • 1 week’s pay for each whole year of service between the ages of 22 and 40 inclusive
  • 0.5 week’s pay for each whole year of service under the age of 22.

(These figures are subject to a maximum of twenty years’ service.)

The calculations are worked backwards from the date of dismissal which means if the employee has been employed for more than 20 years, he can get the benefit of the later years which will usually attract a higher sum of money.

Compensatory award

The compensatory award compensates the employee for any loss of earnings as well as other direct losses as a result of the unfair dismissal. This amount will be decided by the tribunal, and can include compensation for reasonable expenses incurred by the employee and will also include compensation for loss of statutory rights.


Reinstatement is where the employee goes back to his work on the same terms and conditions, with no loss of continuity of employment. Re-engagement is where the employee works for the employer on similar terms and conditions, but in a different job. Re-engagement or reinstatement make up around 1% of all successful unfair dismissal cases.

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Healys lawyers don’t believe in legal jargon, but rather in having straightforward, open discussions, updating you every step of the way on the progress of your case.

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