Editor's message: Some reasons for dismissal are potentially fair, such as conduct, capability and redundancy. However, some other reasons for dismissal are treated as automatically unfair. The usual minimum two years' service for bringing a claim does not apply to most automatically unfair reasons for dismissal.
Automatically unfair dismissals include dismissals because of pregnancy; for making a public interest disclosure (ie whistleblowing); for taking part in official industrial action; and for asserting a statutory right (such as refusing to opt out of the 48-hour working week).
It is highly unlikely that someone within your organisation, such as a line manager, will openly give one of these reasons as the rationale for a dismissal. However, HR professionals and senior staff dealing with dismissal proceedings should make sure that, where a potentially fair reason is given, it is the real one.
Look out in particular for a pregnant employee, whistleblower, trade unionist or asserter of a statutory right being dismissed under the guise of a conduct, capability or redundancy reason. Make sure that in reality the dismissal falls squarely under one of the potentially fair reasons for dismissal and that there is not a smokescreen to hide an automatically unfair motive.
Stephen Simpson, principal employment law editor
Updated to reflect the increase in compensation limits in cases of unfair dismissal, effective from 6 April 2020.
In Royal Mail Group Ltd v Jhuti, the Supreme Court held that, where a dismissal for making protected disclosures is hidden behind an invented reason that is adopted by the decision-maker, the reason for the dismissal is the hidden reason rather than the invented one.
In Pazur v Lexington Catering Services Ltd, the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that a kitchen porter had been subjected to a detriment when he was threatened with dismissal after he refused to return to work following a breach of his right to a rest break.
In Hare Wines Ltd v Kaur and another, the Court of Appeal upheld the tribunal's decision that the employee's dismissal was automatically unfair by reason of a TUPE transfer because the employer had not taken action to resolve her poor working relationships prior to the transfer, but did so by dismissing her at the time of the transfer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
David Malamatenios is partner at Colman Coyle solicitors. He rounds up the latest rulings.
HR and legal information and guidance relating to automatically unfair dismissal.