Editor's message: The right not to be unfairly dismissed is probably the most important statutory right that employees have.
To prevent your organisation falling foul of the legislation, you need to remember that there are only five fair reasons for dismissal - conduct, capability, redundancy, contravention of a statutory duty/restriction, and some other substantial reason. Before dismissing an employee, you therefore need to make sure that you have a potentially fair reason. However, you also need to be able to show that you acted reasonably in treating the reason as sufficient for dismissal, and that you followed a fair process. In a redundancy situation, the latter would include ensuring proper consultation and selection procedures, while a misconduct or performance dismissal would require sufficient warning (in most cases), proper investigation and evidence, and the right to be accompanied at hearings.
Be aware too that there are some reasons for dismissal that are automatically unfair, including where a dismissal is connected to rights around working time, family-friendly leave or the minimum wage. And, while an employee must normally have at least two years' service to bring an unfair dismissal claim, in the majority of areas of automatically unfair dismissal, this minimum service requirement does not apply.
There is no doubt that the tribunal fees regime resulted in a drastic reduction in the number of unfair dismissal claims. However, initial figures following the removal of tribunal fees have shown a dramatic increase, and employers should expect this upward trend to continue.
Stephen Simpson, principal employment law editor
Updated to reflect the increase in compensation limits in cases of unfair dismissal, effective from 6 April 2020.
Updated to reflect an increase in the cap on a week's pay, with effect from 6 April 2020.
Updated to reflect an increase in the amount of the basic award, with effect from 6 April 2020.
Updated to reflect an increase in the maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal, with effect from 6 April 2020.
Updated to reflect an increase in the maximum unfair dismissal compensatory award, with effect from 6 April 2020.
Consultant editor Darren Newman looks at recent unfair dismissal cases, including Royal Mail Group Ltd v Jhuti, which concern the knowledge of the decision-maker and asks when the unreasonable conduct of another manager should be taken into account in deciding whether or not the decision to dismiss is fair.
In Uddin v London Borough of Ealing, the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that the investigating officer's failure to share a material fact with the decision-maker was relevant to the fairness of the dismissal.
In Kirk v Citibank NA and others, an employment tribunal held that a senior banker who was dismissed following a redundancy process was subjected to direct age discrimination and unfairly dismissed.
HR and legal information and guidance relating to unfair dismissal.