If you feel you have been unfairly dismissed, forced to resign or made to retire against your will, you can take your claim to an Employment Tribunal. You can seek compensation, or you can ask to be taken back by your employer. A tribunal may order your employer to take you back – if the employer still refuses to comply, you will normally get additional compensation.
If the dismissal is for certain reasons, called Automatically Unfair, no service period is required to claim. In other cases, since 2012, you need to have two years continuous service.
Compensation for unfair dismissal is capped if you go to tribunal. You cannot be awarded more than £78, 962 (from April 2016). If you earn more than this, you need to take advice and consider making your claim in a civil court, not a tribunal. Since 2013, you will not be awarded more than one years pay for unfair dismissal.
You are also entitled to a basic award, in addition to the above. This is based on your age and length of service and is subject to a weekly salary cap of £479 (2016).
Note though that the average award is well below this figure.
If your unfair dismissal is connected with pregnancy, discrimination (sex, race, sexual orientation, religion and belief, age or disability), the compensation is unlimited. Compensation is also unlimited if you are dismissed under the “Whistleblowers” legislation, ie. you have been dismissed for raising concerns about your Employers activities.
To claim unfair dismissal, you must normally present your claim to the tribunal service within 3 months of losing your job. In specific instances, late claims will be allowed to proceed. Even if you are going through an appeal process, do not delay in making your tribunal claim. The clock is running from the date of dismissal, not the date of the appeal!
You will now have to speak with an organisation called ACAS before you can proceed with any tribunal claims. There is also now a fee to pay; unless you have limited savings and income. Contact our advice line before making contact with ACAS if you have any concerns.
If you wish to make a late claim, contact our helpline now to see if there is a chance it could proceed. Contact our advice line.
A dismissal may be fair if it is for one of the following reasons; although your Employer must still follow a fair process:
- your conduct
- your capability or qualifications for the job
- redundancy (your job is disappearing)
- to comply with a legal requirement
- some other substantial reason that justifies your dismissal
Even if your dismissal is for one of the above reasons, your employer must have acted reasonably and followed a fair process.
As a minimum, your Employer should follow the standards set down in the 2009 ACAS Code, some examples are:
- Did your employer hold a disciplinary hearing? Were you given advance warning of this meeting, in writing?
- Had there been any previous warnings? Have they expired?
- Were you offered a companion?
- Is there a disciplinary procedure? Did your company follow this procedure?
- Were you offered an appeal?
- Are the company rules clear on this offence?
- Is the decision consistent with other similar incidents?
- Did you have written details of the alleged offences before the meeting?
If you think your employer has acted unfairly or unreasonably, take further advice.
Forced to Retire?
Your Employer is not allowed to retire you at any given age; unless there is a clear policy on this which the Employer can justify. Unless there is a clear and justified policy, you have the right under Age Discrimination rules to choose for yourself when you wish to retire from work. You can claim unfair dismissal at any age now; and you are also entitled to a Statutory redundancy payment if you are made redundant at any age (this protection used to stop when you reached 65 but doesn’t now.)
You can always ask your employer about flexible working if you would like to carry on working but perhaps go part time. Subject to certain qualifying rules, you have a legal right to request flexible working.
For further detail go to the Family Rights section.
If you have been dismissed, do not delay in submitting your application to the Tribunal Service. The three month time limit applies from the effective date of your dismissal – even though you may be going through some appeal process. Do not wait until your appeal is dealt with, contact the Tribunal Service or take legal advice.