Commercial Law

Unfair Dismissal

What is Unfair Dismissal?

In order for a dismissal to be fair, there must be a fair reason. There are only six potentially fair reasons for dismissal:-

  • redundancy,
  • capability,
  • conduct,
  • illegality
  • retirement; and,
  • some other substantial reason

Establishing the reason for the dismissal is only the starting point.  An employer has to show that it was reasonable to dismiss for that reason. The employer must also follow a fair procedure before reaching the decision to dismiss the employee.

Who can bring a claim for Unfair Dismissal?  

For most employees, in order to bring a claim for unfair dismissal they will need to have been in employment for a continuous period. For employees who were employed by their employer on or before 5th April 2012, they will need 12 months’ continuous employment.

Employees who started their contracts of employment on or after 6th April 2012, they will need 24 months of continuous employment.

These are “general” rules. There are exceptions which make it possible for an employee to bring a claim of unfair dismissal if they have only been employed for a very short time.


If you unfairly dismiss an employee, they will be entitled to either:-

  • reinstatement (i.e. being put back into their old job) and compensation, or
  • re-engagement (being put back to a different job) and compensation, or
  • compensation alone.

The most common remedy is compensation.

Time Limits

The Employment Tribunal has very strict time-limits for receiving claims; usually three months less one day from the employee’s last day of employment.

Once an unfair dismissal claim has been received by an Employment Tribunal, they allow the Respondent (the former employer) 28 days to submit a written defence (the ET3).

It is very important for the ET3 to be properly completed because it affects how the claims are defended. We regularly draft and submit ET3 forms on behalf of clients.

If you receive an ET3 and require advice, it is important that you seek advice immediately so that it can be completed thoroughly and submitted in good time.

We can help

If you are contemplating disciplining or dismissing an employee, and would like some legal advice, please do not hesitate to contact your nearest Ringrose Law office. We are in Boston, Grantham, Lincoln, Sleaford, and Newark and ask for a member of the Employment Law team.

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    Chris RandallAssociate & Head of Employment Law
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