The Basics That All Employers Should Know About Unfair Dismissal

It is incredibly likely that all employers will find themselves in a situation at some point in their professional career where they will need to dismiss employees. As you’re probably already aware, when dismissing an employee you will be bringing their employment contract to an end and in turn, terminating their job with your company. It goes without saying that having to dismiss someone isn’t easy on anyone, but employers should be aware that there are many different things they’re required to do when dismissing an employee fairly. 

You may have previously heard of the term ‘unfair dismissal’ and if an employee feels as though they weren’t dismissed fairly, they may be able to lodge a claim with the Employment Tribunal. It is so important to ensure that as an employer you’re aware of exactly what unfair dismissal is and how you can avoid any implications in this regard. So, to help any employers expand their knowledge, we have put together a guide covering all of the basics. 

How is a dismissal deemed unfair?

There are two main things that will deem whether a dismissal is fair or unfair, these are; 

  1. Your reasons for dismissing an employee
  2. How you handle the dismissal process

So, you should ensure that as an employer you’re aware of fair reasons for dismissal and also the correct process to avoid being accused of unfair dismissal. We will look into both of these things further below. 

What are the reasons for fair dismissal?

All employers should know that the law states what reasons are fair when it comes to dismissing someone. These reasons include; 

  • Misconduct at work 
  • Lack of capability 
  • Redundancy 
  • Problems with statutory requirements

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to dismiss an employee and you think it is fair, but it doesn’t fall under any of the above reasons, it may fall under ‘other substantial reasons’. It would be best to speak to an experienced employment law solicitor about your individual situation in this regard to ensure that the dismissal isn’t, in fact, unfair. 

How should you handle a dismissal process?

Even if your reason for dismissal may be fair, the dismissal itself can still be classed as unfair if you don’t act reasonably during the process. There isn’t actually a legal definition of ‘reasonableness’, so employers often wonder how they should handle a dismissal process. 

One thing that is essential to helping you handle the dismissal process fairly is following all relevant and required procedures. These procedures should be set out in writing for employers to read and they should follow the advice set out in the Acas code of practice. So, you should familiarise yourself with this and ensure that you’re following it to a tee to avoid issues with unfair dismissal. 

Who can make a claim for unfair dismissal?

This is where things can get tricky for employers because, ultimately, almost anyone who believes their dismissal was unfair can claim for unfair dismissal against you. This means that even if you think you’ve been fair, a claim can still be made. If someone believes that the reason given for their dismissal wasn’t the real one, the reason given was unfair or you acted unreasonably during the process, they may want to claim unfair dismissal. 

However, an employee can only claim for unfair dismissal if they have worked at your company for a specific period of time. Since 6th April 2012, employees have only been able to claim after 2 years of employment. 

What are the penalties for unfair dismissal?

Employment Tribunals can order employers to do three different things if they are found to have dismissed someone unfairly, these are;

  1. Reinstate the employee in their old job role
  2. Re-employ the employee in a different job role 
  3. Pay compensation to the employee

As far as compensation is concerned, there is a limit that the Employment Tribunal can award for unfair dismissal. This is currently set at £88,519 or 52 weeks of the employee’s salary, whichever is lower.

Getting legal advice about unfair dismissal

Hopefully, you will now know all of the basics regarding unfair dismissal, so if you find yourself in a situation where you need to dismiss someone you should easily be able to do so fairly. Of course, if you ever need advice regarding how to dismiss someone to ensure that you won’t end up with a claim against you, you should speak to an experienced employment law specialist who will be able to advise you further. 

Here at Location Lawyer, we can connect you with local employment law solicitors in Southampton, or where you may be in the UK, to ensure that you’re getting expert advice. You can trust that whatever issues you may be facing in relation to unfair dismissal, or other areas of employment law, these solicitors can provide you with a range of legal services to help you through this difficult time.