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 Really Easy Car Credit Ltd v Thompson, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) allowed the appeal and held that the employer was not obliged to revisit its decision to dismiss when it became aware that the employee was pregnant.
A British Airways logistics agent has been awarded a £19,000 pay-out, after an employment tribunal found he was unfairly dismissed following a period of sickness absence.
Updated to include details of the increase in the limits on employment tribunal awards, effective from 6 April 2018.
In NHS 24 v Pillar EAT/0051/16, the EAT held that the inclusion in an investigative report of details about previous conduct in respect of which no disciplinary action was taken did not render a misconduct dismissal unfair.
In Royal Mail Ltd v Jhuti  IRLR 251 CA, the Court of Appeal held that the motivation of a manager who manipulated evidence to procure the dismissal of a whistleblowing employee could not be attributed to the employer, as the decision to dismiss was taken by a manager who was not motivated by the employee's protected disclosures.
In Royal Surrey County NHS Foundation Trust v Drzymala, the Employment Appeal Tribunal considered the fairness of an employee's dismissal by her employer's decision not to renew her fixed-term contract, including the effect of the employer's compliance with the Fixed-term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has remitted to an employment tribunal the issue of whether or not a Jamaican national with the "right of abode" was fairly dismissed after he did not provide the required documentation during his employer's audit of its workforce's right to work in the UK.
The Court of Appeal has held that a claimant cannot succeed in a whistleblowing unfair dismissal claim where the decision-maker was unaware of the protected disclosure at the time of the decision to dismiss.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has held that including details of previous non-disciplinary incidents in the investigation report did not make the dismissal unfair.
In O'Brien v Bolton St Catherine's Academy  IRLR 547 CA, the Court of Appeal held that the employer's decision to disregard new medical evidence and dismiss an employee on long-term sickness absence amounted to both discrimination arising from disability and unfair dismissal.
HR and legal information and guidance relating to unfair dismissal.