Unfair dismissal

Ashok Kanani

Editor's message: An employee has the right not to be unfairly dismissed by his or her employer under the Employment Rights Act 1996 (provided that the qualifying conditions are met).

If a claim for unfair dismissal is brought against your organisation, you will have to show that the reason for the dismissal is one of the potentially fair reasons set out in the Act (capability, conduct, redundancy, breach of a statutory enactment, or some other substantial reason). If you can establish this, the employment tribunal will go on to consider if you acted reasonably in dismissing the employee, taking into account all the circumstances. You will need to show that you investigated the matter, followed a fair procedure and ultimately made a reasonable decision to dismiss.

If a dismissal is found to be unfair, the tribunal can order you to pay compensation to the dismissed employee, or to re-engage or reinstate him or her. Additionally, if a tribunal finds that you haven't followed the Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures in a relevant case, it can increase the compensation it orders you to pay by up to 25%.

Ashok Kanani, employment law editor

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