Your employer must establish and follow its own disciplinary and dismissal procedures, providing copies to all staff. Employees should also know they may bring someone with them to hearings and they may postpone hearings when appropriate.
Even if your employer had good reason to fire you, if they fail to follow the appropriate procedures for doing so your dismissal will automatically become unfair.
What is Unfair Dismissal?
Even though we live in an at-will employment state, employers must adhere to certain legal criteria when dismissing employees for cause. Otherwise, they could face unfair dismissal and possibly be found liable for wrongful termination claims.
Employers liable for firing employees for reasons which are automatically unfair (such as taking part in industrial action or blowing the whistle) must compensate them. This can amount to as much as one year’s salary up to a statutory limit of PS86,444 (this doesn’t take into account pension contributions or discretionary bonuses), plus an award.
Even if there are valid grounds for dismissing an employee, dismissals can still be unfair if their employer did not adhere to an ethical process when dismissing them. This might involve failing to follow ACAS Code of Practice guidelines when redundancy arises or providing enough investigations, evidence or warnings when dealing with discipline issues; additionally, an employee might not have been permitted to be present at meetings where they were dismissed.
What are the Basics of Unfair Dismissal Law?
As an employee, you have numerous statutory rights which may be asserted in cases of unfair dismissal. This includes being treated fairly and respectfully by your employer; to attend disciplinary hearings accompanied by legal counsel; receiving maternity pay, holiday leave or sick pay; filing complaints about breaches to these rights; being protected against unlawful deductions from wages and more.
Dismissals that fall within certain criteria can be classified as automatically unfair, meaning you do not require a qualifying period of continuity of service before claiming that they were unfair. Such circumstances include pregnancy or childbirth, health and safety activities, whistleblowing activities, exercising various time off rights or bringing a claim under Equality Act 2010. If your dismissal was found to be automatic unfair, compensation of up to two years’ pay may be awarded along with a basic award; typically this award would increase if found to have been done due to discriminatory motives by your employer.
What Happens if I File a Claim for Unfair Dismissal?
If you can prove that your employer was unfair in dismissing you, the results can include reinstatement (in a job with comparable pay and conditions) or compensation – or both. A tribunal will evaluate if your employer followed fair disciplinary and performance management procedures as well as conducted an adequate investigation, while also considering any reasons given for dismissal and whether they were reasonable.
If a tribunal rules that your dismissal was unfair, they may order your employer to reinstate you immediately or pay compensation for any financial losses you’ve incurred from it, such as lost earnings from being laid off to when your tribunal hearing takes place – though they will expect you to have tried to minimise these by seeking other work opportunities during this period.
The tribunal will assess how much compensation you should receive based on factors like lost income and age; you may even qualify for expenses reimbursement.
How Can I Make a Claim for Unfair Dismissal?
There are various methods available to employees wishing to file claims of unfair dismissal. Most cases are heard before an industrial tribunal and require continuous employment for at least two years prior to filing any complaints.
In general, employment tribunals will examine your employer’s procedures, reasons and actions leading up to and including your dismissal, as well as your performance – especially whether warnings were provided about any issues that could lead to dismissal and what steps were taken prior to being dismissed.
Maintaining accurate records of performance reviews, one-on-one meetings, emails between you and your employer as well as any correspondence can help demonstrate that the reasons given for your dismissal were unfair. If the tribunal agrees with your argument and awards you compensation – whether that means returning to your old job, being reengaged into another job or receiving payment for financial losses.