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
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.
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 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.
Updated to include information on Mbubaegbu v Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, in which the EAT held that a summary dismissal was fair despite no single act of gross misconduct; and Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust v Haywood, concerning the date when a notice period begins.
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.
Updated to reflect an increase in the maximum unfair dismissal compensatory award, with effect from 6 April 2018.
Updated to reflect an increase in the cap on a week's pay, with effect from 6 April 2018.
Updated to reflect an increase in the amount of the basic award, with effect from 6 April 2018.
Updated to reflect an increase in the maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal, with effect from 6 April 2018.
HR and legal information and guidance relating to unfair dismissal.