Unfair Dismissal Claims

Generally employees will be able to pursue an unfair dismissal claim against their employer after they have achieved more than two years service with the business, although there are exceptions to this provision which means that it is always worth seeking advice from a specialist before deciding not to proceed with an unfair dismissal claim.

In order for a dismissal to be regarded as being a legally “fair” it would be necessary for an employer to establish that the reason for dismissal was one of the approved grounds for termination being: the conduct of the employee, the capability of the employee, redundancy, where there is a statutory barrier to continued employment, or for what is described as “some other substantial reason”. Even if the dismissal is for one of the above reasons it is still necessary for an employer to follow a fair process leading to the decision to dismiss. This would involve a reasonable investigation and disciplinary process including the provision of an explanation for the disciplinary action and details of any evidence which had been obtained during the investigatory process, the right to be accompanied at a formal hearing and the right to appeal to someone who was not involved in the original disciplinary the decision.

Unfortunately employers frequently make mistakes during the course of the disciplinary or investigatory process and this can result in a situation where the decision to dismiss is “procedurally unfair”. This exposes the business to the risk of successful litigation and in those circumstances, it is sensible to obtain specialist legal advice to manage that risk. I encourage business clients to invest in specialist legal advice to prepare robust policies and procedures relating to disciplinary investigations and I can offer support in producing those policies, training managers to apply them successfully and to provide a “second opinion” before a decision to dismiss is taken in controversial cases.

Dismissals resulting from redundancies provide particular challenges for many businesses because the system of selection through redundancies will frequently be examined in any subsequent Employment Tribunal proceedings. Many employers failed to understand and apply the complex consultation process which is required by English law, or fail to allocate employees into appropriate “redundancy pools”. Employees often allege that they have been selected for redundancy for reasons unrelated to work, very often that their ” face does not fit”, or that a particular manager has a negative attitude towards them. In these circumstances, I can advise upon the prospects of success in a claim for unfair dismissal based upon unfair selection for redundancy.

Over many years I have acted in cases involving significant claims for compensation relating to allegations of unfair dismissal which have been resolved either by way of a Settlement Agreement prior to litigation, or by awards compensation in the Employment Tribunal and I am highly experienced in negotiation tactics which are critical to achieve the optimum outcome in your claim.

If you have been dismissed, or are facing an unfair dismissal claim and you are uncertain as to whether the decision was fair or not, I would be happy to discuss your situation and provide you with my view. Please do not hesitate to contact me.

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