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
In Talon Engineering Ltd v Smith, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) held that an employer's refusal to postpone a disciplinary hearing for two weeks to allow the employee's union official to accompany her made her dismissal unfair.
A nurse who set himself on fire and died after being dismissed from his job was "treated unfairly", according to an independent investigation.
In Patel v Folkestone Nursing Home Ltd, the Court of Appeal held that the effect of a contractual right of appeal against dismissal is that a successful appeal revives the contract and extinguishes the original dismissal.
Updated to include information on City of York Council v Grosset, in which the Court of Appeal confirmed that a dismissal which is in breach of the Equality Act 2010 may still be a fair dismissal.
In Bluebird Buses Ltd v Borowicki, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) upheld an employment tribunal's findings of unfair and wrongful dismissal in relation to a bus driver whose bus became stranded after he drove it into a patch of flooded road.
In Afzal v East London Pizza Ltd t/a Dominos Pizza, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) held that an employee who was dismissed when he failed to produce evidence of his continuing right to work in the UK should have had the right to appeal.
A former Sainsbury's employee was unfairly dismissed after an investigation into whether he had committed an act of gross misconduct was not approached with an open mind, an employment tribunal has found.
Consultant editor Darren Newman looks at a recent case in which the Court of Appeal had to consider if, in sharing information from a manager's desk diary, a trade union rep had acted outside the scope of trade union activities for the purposes of the automatically unfair dismissal protection afforded by s.152 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.
In Morris v Metrolink RATP DEV Ltd, the Court of Appeal held that a trade union representative who retained confidential information related to a restructuring exercise was unfairly dismissed.
Consultant editor Darren Newman explains how the difference between the test of reasonableness in relation to unfair dismissal and the test for justification in relation to "discrimination arising from disability" led to an interesting - and important - Court of Appeal decision.
HR and legal information and guidance relating to unfair dismissal.