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 that the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal in Uber BV and others v Aslam and others on 19 December 2018.
Updated to include information on Talon Engineering Ltd v Smith, concerning the employer's refusal to postpone a disciplinary hearing to allow the employee to be accompanied.
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.
In Morgan v Royal Mencap Society, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) held that an employment tribunal was wrong to strike out a whistleblowing claim on the basis that an employee's complaint about cramped working conditions was not "in the public interest". Naomi Clarkson explains this recent employment case.
In Underwood v Wincanton plc EAT/0163/15, the EAT held that an employment tribunal had erred in striking out a whistleblowing claim on the basis that the alleged disclosure could not in law satisfy the requirement of being in the "public interest".
HR and legal information and guidance relating to automatically unfair dismissal.