Guest Blog by Mike James
There is never a good time to lose your job – but it can feel even worse if you believe that there was no fair reason for your dismissal. At such a challenging and distressing time it is natural to feel confused and angry, but it is important to keep a cool head and consider your options. It may be the case that your employer’s reason for letting you go are not fair are in breach of the law. If this is the case, it might be possible for you to challenge your dismissal.
Let’s take a closer look at unfair dismissal to understand what constitutes a breaking of the law by an employer. From there you can understand whether you could potentially bring a legal case against them.
What counts as unfair dismissal?
Dismissal from your job occurs when your employer ends your contract of employment – the opposite of resignation, where an employee ends the contact. However, for an employer to end your contract fairly, they need to stay within the correct legal procedures. Every employee in the UK has rights to protect them from being unfairly fired, and if an employer doesn’t follow the procedures correctly this can count as unfair dismissal.
There are a huge range of reasons this is deemed illegal for an employer to dismiss you on the basis of. You cannot legally be dismissed due to your age, race, gender, religion, pregnancy, being a member of a trade union or exercising your legal rights. However, some of the reasons that an employment tribunal will generally consider to be a ‘fair’ dismissal can include a serious or regular misconduct while in your role – this could include being regularly absent from work, theft or intoxication.
Unfair dismissal or redundancy?
It is important to remember additionally that redundancy does not count as unfair dismissal. This can complicate the process of unfair dismissal, as some employers will use redundancy as the reason for dismissal even if it is not necessarily the case. Redundancy occurs when your job is no longer needed by the business and there can be several reasons for why this might be the case. For example, an employer can make someone redundant as a cost cutting measure and this does not count as unfair dismissal.
However, if redundancy is used as the reason for your dismissal your employer will need to give you warning of a potential redundancy, discuss the process with you and look into alternative options for you. Additionally it might be the case that you believe your employer is using the excuse of redundancy, but is actually dismissing you for an entirely separate reason.
Can you make a claim?
So what happens when you believe that you have been dismissed unfairly by your employer? It may be the case that you can bring a claim against them. Clearly, however, this is a complex process so it is important for you to discuss your individual situation with a solicitor with a good understanding of unfair dismissal cases that are similar to yours.
You need to make sure that you choose a solicitor with specific experience and expertise in the field. For example, George Ide Solicitors have built up an excellent reputation for fighting unfair dismissal cases in the South East. Above all, you need to select a solicitor that you feel you can trust.
What happens if you lose your case?
Some people worry that if they try to claim for unfair dismissal they will lose their case and be left facing an enormous legal bill with no means of paying it. However, this isn’t necessarily something that you need to be concerned by. Firstly, it is possible to choose to have a solicitor work on a no-win, no-fee basis. Discuss the cost and fee implications with your solicitor so they you understand exactly how much you are going to pay in any given scenario.
When should you make a claim?
As is the case with the majority of legal cases, there is a time limit as to when it is possible to bring a case against your employer. In normal circumstances you have to make an unfair dismissal claim within three months of the date that you were dismissed. Before doing so, you must inform Acas (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service).