Dismissal from Work - Know Your Rights

Unfortunately, being dismissed is something many employees may have to face at some point in their career. However, employers have a duty to ensure that their decision to dismiss someone is both fair and handled reasonably. If an employer bases their decision on an unjust reason, fails to follow the correct procedures or forces an employee to leave due to their own conduct, they may well find themselves facing legal action.

Fair dismissal

Your employer has the right to end your employment if they have a just reason for doing so. There are a range of situations where an employer may need to dismiss someone, for example:

  • They need to select staff for redundancy for economic reasons
  • The company has gone into administration
  • The employee is not capable of doing the job to the standard required
  • There is a legal barrier to the employee being able to do their job (e.g. loss of driving licence)
  • The employee has committed misconduct

Every situation is unique, but the employer must ensure their grounds for dismissal are valid and that the actions they took to dismiss an employee were consistent and reasonable under the circumstances.

It should be noted that in the case of someone no longer being able to perform their work duties due to illness or a disability, the employer has a legal duty to make any reasonable adjustments in the workplace to support their needs. Failing to do so is discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

Unfair dismissal

If the reason for dismissal is unjust, the employee could claim unfair dismissal and take their case to an employment tribunal. Examples of unfair grounds for dismissal include:

  • Whistleblowing
  • Joining a trade union
  • Pregnancy
  • Applying for maternity leave or flexible working
  • Taking parental leave entitlement
  • Being a part time employee

Employers must also ensure that they have followed the relevant dismissal process. The employee must be given adequate notice of the intention to dismiss (either the statutory minimum or contractual period – whichever is longer) and be allowed to respond and appeal. In cases that involve disciplinary issues, the employer must also investigate the matter thoroughly and follow the correct disciplinary procedures.

In cases of gross misconduct (such as committing a violent act against a co-worker, for example) dismissal can be immediate with no requirement for the employer to give notice.

Wrongful dismissal

Wrongful dismissal occurs when the terms of an employee’s contract have been breached. Failure to give an employee the correct notice is a common example of this. Others include:

  • Failure to comply with redundancy, grievance or disciplinary procedures as per the contract
  • Early termination of a fixed-term contract

The claimant must establish that they suffered a loss as a result of the breach in order to bring a claim for wrongful dismissal.

Constructive dismissal

Constructive dismissal occurs when a person is forced to leave their employment due to the actions or conduct of the employer. For instance, if they:

  • Allow the employee to be harassed, bullied or discriminated against in the workplace
  • Force an employee to accept unreasonable changes to their hours or job role
  • Fail to pay the employee or suddenly reduce their wages without consultation
  • Fail to provide a safe working environment

In these circumstances, if the employee is not able to resolve the issue in question with their employer, it’s advisable to seek professional advice as soon as possible.

Get prompt advice from employment law experts

If you’re facing dismissal by an employer or have been dismissed and believe you were treated unfairly, getting advice from the experts can make all the difference. There are also time limits within which you need to bring a claim, so it pays to act quickly.

At Rowberry Morris, we have an experienced employment law and dispute resolution team who are ready to help you resolve any dismissal matters you may be experiencing. We do our best to help you find solutions, seek justice and get the right result for you.

To discuss any employment law problems, please get in touch with our legal experts at employment@rowberrymorris.co.uk or give us a call on 01189 585 61.

To find out more about some of the employment claims we’ve helped our clients win, read our case studies.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.