22 April 2018
Have I Been Unfairly Dismissed?
Being sacked or made redundant is usually a very unwelcome surprise. It tends to come out of the blue, and can be very distressing and unnerving. How I will I pay the bills? How will I tell my family? But in some cases the dismissal can be reversed or give rise to compensation, if the employer has not followed proper procedures or there is no good reason for it.
If your job is at risk of redundancy, you will be notified by your employer in advance. You may be offered voluntary redundancy or the opportunity to job share, or the chance to work elsewhere in the same business. If you have at least two years’ continuous employment, you are entitled to a redundancy payment.
You may be offered a settlement agreement, which will have details of the proposed severance package such as the redundancy payment, any ex gratia payment, etc. Your employer must offer to contribute to your legal fees in taking advice on the settlement agreement. It is important that you do take advice, because once the agreement is signed, you will not be able to bring an employment-related claim against your employer.
Every employee has the right not to be dismissed unfairly. An example of unfair dismissal is if your role is terminated because you go on maternity leave, or because you are a ‘whistle-blower’. If your employer does not have a good reason for dismissing you, or they have failed to follow a formal disciplinary or dismissal process, you may be able to get your job back, or get compensation for unfair dismissal.
Some people are forced to leave their job because of harassment, bullying or breach of contract by your employer. If they feel they have no option but to leave the job, then this may amount to ‘constructive dismissal’ (a form of unfair dismissal), and can again lead to a compensation payment.
The courts have found that employees have been ‘constructively dismissed’ where, for example, they were forced to accept unreasonable changes to their shift pattern. Another example is where someone is demoted for no good reason.
One thing to be aware of is the short time limit for bringing a claim against your employer. It is three months less one day from your last day of employment for an unfair dismissal claim. So if your last day of employment is 15 March, the claim must be issued by 14 June. The good news is that there are no fees to pay to the Employment Tribunal to bring a claim. If you win the claim, your employer will normally be ordered to pay you back your solicitors’ costs.
For more information about claiming for unfair dismissal and settlement agreements, click here.