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Unfair dismissal

If your employer has terminated your employment and you think you have been unfairly dismissed, you may be able to make a claim at an Employment Tribunal.  You must do so within three months of the end of your employment.
You may have been unfairly dismissed if your employer didn’t have a fair reason to dismiss you or didn’t follow a fair procedure.
Fair grounds for dismissing an employee include, for example:
  • the employee’s conduct;
  • the employee’s capability;
  • redundancy; and
  • some other substantial reason.
In most cases you will only be eligible to claim unfair dismissal if you worked continuously for your employer for at least one year (if you started your job on or before 5 April 2012), or at least two years (if you started your job on or after 6 April 2012).  
In some circumstances you can make an unfair dismissal claim even if you worked for your employer for only a short time, as protection starts from day one of your job.  It will be automatically unfair if your employer dismissed you, for example:
  • for being pregnant or on maternity, paternity or parental leave;
  • for joining a union or being a union representative;
  • for whistleblowing;
  • for asking for flexible working; or
  • for exercising or trying to exercise the employment rights you are entitled to under the law.
If you feel that the reason for your dismissal was discriminatory – for example, if you were dismissed because of your age, disability, gender identity, pregnancy, maternity leave,  race, sex or sexual orientation  or because you are married or in a civil partnership – you can make a claim to an Employment Tribunal even if you worked for your employer for only a day.
There are strict limits for making a claim to an Employment Tribunal.  In most unfair dismissal cases, the Employment Tribunal will only be able to consider your case if it receives your claim within three months (less one day) of the date that your employment ended. 

Find out about the potential cost of bringing claims of unfair or wrongful dismissal

The law in this area is complicated and the information above should not be relied on or used as a substitute for legal advice. You may find the Acas guidance about dismissals useful

Kim's Story

With the support of Nick Webster of Leigh Day, Kim Beaney successfully brought an Employment Tribunal claim for sexual harassment, direct discrimination and discriminatory dismissal against her employer, Highways England. Watch her story below.

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