Employment Law: Unfair Dismissal in the UK

In the UK, one of the main conditions for recognizing termination as legal is the criterion of reasonableness. For instance, an employment tribunal may consider that, despite the absence of a requirement for mandatory notification of dismissal in the law and the contract with the employee, the employer should nevertheless give the employee time to look for another job. The criterion of reasonableness always remains at the discretion of the tribunal. The dismissal process is established by the Employment Rights Act of 1996. The act regulates only general issues regarding the labor law since an employment contract specifies the details of the relationship between the employee and the employer in each case (Employment rights act 1996, 2019). The legislation established that the termination of an employment contract might be lawful and illegal, fair, or unfair.

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Moreover, unfair dismissal can also be based on discriminatory factors. Also, the criterion of injustice is divided into two categories – potentially fair and automatically unfair (Employment rights act 1996, 2019). Potentially fair reasons are redundancy, conduct, capability, statutory restriction, and other substantial reasons (Employment rights act 1996, 2019). However, if the employee’s statutory rights are violated, the dismissal is considered as automatically unfair. Some of the examples are joining a trade union, maternity or paternity, refusal to work more than 48 hours on average, and demanding a national minimum wage. Not always, a legal release will be considered to be fair. Moreover, if the employer provides a reason that the tribunal will assess as insufficient, the tribunal may recognize the dismissal as unfair.

In order for the dismissal to be recognized as lawful and fair, the employer has to prove compliance with the dismissal procedure and provide sufficient reasons for termination of the contract. Such reasons may be related to the employee’s behavior, his or her business qualities, and qualifications, as well as the objective need of the employer for a particular employee (Employment rights act 1996, 2019). Illegal dismissal is a violation of the terms of the employment contract (Acas, 2019). Improper payment of wages, failure to notify of termination within the period specified in the employment contract, and breach of the procedures established by the agreement are some of the examples (Acas, 2019). For such actions, the employer may have to part with 25 thousand pounds in compensation for a breach of the terms of the employment contract, excluding other payments (Employment rights act 1996, 2019).

To terminate the employment contract, each party must notify the other party of the termination. At the same time, the parties should account for a period of notice and a payment replacing the notice period (pay in lieu of notice) (Employment rights act 1996, 2019). Payments that replace the notification period are only for the employees and make up the difference between the notification period set and the actual time of the notification (Acas, 2019). For example, if the employer has to notify the employee of the dismissal in a month, but actually informed only a week prior to the release, the employer will have to pay in lieu of notice for three weeks. The rate is determined according to the average monthly wage of the employee, regardless of whether the employee continues to perform the labor function or has already been dismissed.

The term before the dismissal, in which it is necessary to notify the employee, is set depending on the length of employment with the company unless otherwise set by labor or collective agreements. For example, for an employee who has worked for less than a month at the company, a notice period is not set. If more than a month, but the employee is still on probation, then the worker must be notified seven days in advance. In other cases, the period is at least a month. Employees are similarly obliged to inform their employers about resignation in advance (Acas, 2019). The Employment Rights Act establishes a rule according to which each year of service adds a week to the notice period. If the employee does not notify the employer of the dismissal or does not inform in due time, and in case such actions caused losses to the company, the employer is able to apply to an employment tribunal with a claim for compensation.

Reference List

Acas. (2015) Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures. Web.

Acas. (2019) Fair and unfair dismissals. Web.

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Employment rights act 1996 (2019). Web.

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StudyCorgi. "Employment Law: Unfair Dismissal in the UK." August 7, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/employment-law-unfair-dismissal-in-the-uk/.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Employment Law: Unfair Dismissal in the UK." August 7, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/employment-law-unfair-dismissal-in-the-uk/.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Employment Law: Unfair Dismissal in the UK'. 7 August.

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