Being sacked from your job can come as a huge shock. Not only will you have financial concerns, but you may worry about the impact on your career and the damage to your professional reputation. Dismissal often feels unfair, but in some cases, it can be legally classed as such. In these cases, you might be entitled to compensation.
If you feel you were dismissed unfairly, you’ll be anxious to know your rights. You may decide to contact Citizen’s Advice or see a no win no fee employment lawyer. These companies are often recommended to dismissal complainants because there’s no obligation to proceed after seeking advice, and you won’t have to pay your legal fees unless you win the case. A meeting with a lawyer will help you know your rights and plan your next steps in the face of dismissal.
What is unfair dismissal?
Dismissal is the legal term for being sacked or “let go” from your job, with or without notice. Your employer has the right to dismiss you, but only if they have a fair reason to do so.
According to gov.uk, an employer can only legally dismiss you from your position if there is a valid reason they can justify (e.g., a breach of contract, serious complaints made against you or an ongoing inability to perform your job) and only if they have taken reasonable steps to investigate or resolve the matter.
Employers must also show consistency when it comes to dismissal. In other words, they shouldn’t let you go because of something they letother employees do, even if it breaches your contract.
Unfair dismissal is when your employer can’t present a valid reason for dismissing you or they fail to follow the correct dismissal procedures. You can also be unfairly dismissed if your employer has discriminated against you. This only counts if you were dismissed because of your gender, disability, pregnancy, religious beliefs, age or sexuality.
Should you challenge your dismissal?
If you feel you were sacked unfairly, you are legally entitled to challenge your dismissal, but only if you meet the following criteria:
- You were dismissed from your job, with or without notice
- You were dismissed while on maternity leave, or your employer refused to take you back once your maternity leave was over
- You have worked for your employer for a minimum of two years
You may also be able to claim unfair dismissal if you felt pressured to leave your job.
You can’t claim unfair dismissal if the following is true:
- You are self-employed
- You resigned by choice
- You’ve behaved badly at work (i.e. gross misconduct)
- You’re an agency worker or classed as a ‘worker’
- You’re a police officer or in the armed forces
What to do if you are dismissed unfairly
There are several steps to take if you feel you were dismissed unfairly. The first is to check you’ve actually been dismissed and that you weren’t just suspended. You will need a letter of termination (or emails, text messages or other written communication) from your employer as proof. By law, you have the right to receive a written statement of dismissal if you have worked for your employer for two years or more.
Your employer must provide this statement within 14 days of your request. You should then present this letter to your lawyer, trade union representative or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and seek legal advice on what to do next.