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Dismissal: Know Your Employment Rights and Responsibilities
Posted by David Cant on April 18, 2013

Since 1997 when Labour came to power, the number of employment legislation that have come into existence have been staggering. An example is “The Employment Rights Act of 2008” which provide details on employment rights and responsibilities for employees and their respective Employers. The UK government has approved employment law governing a lot of aspects of the working time. These include limits on working time, facilitating part time working, health and safety, outlawing employment discrimination on any grounds of disability, religious affiliations and age.

Employment Law

The employment law that governs the circumstances under which an employee can or cannot be dismissed has undergone tightening up on the loose spots.  At the basic level, the law gives employees a right not to be dismissed unfairly but this does not necessarily give the employees a claim. For those who have been dismissed or are facing the threat of dismissal, they can take the following actions:

Unfair dismissal

According to ACAS- employment disputes arbitration service, employment law states that dismissal is usually fair only if the employer can show that he dismissed you on any of the following reasons:

  • Because you were redundant
  • A reason connected to your conduct
  • A reason connected to your qualifications or capability for the job
  • Because a statutory restriction prohibited the continuation of that employment
  • Any other substantial reason that can justify the dismissal
  • The employer should prove that he/she acted reasonably in treating the reason as sufficient for the dismissal

Conversely, a dismissal will be deemed by the employment law to be automatically unfair regardless of the employer’s action if the employee is exercising specific rights that include:

  • Pregnancy, including any reason relating to maternity;
  • Fixed term and part time employees;
  • Family reasons including paternity leave and parental leave;
  • Representation: including trade union membership
  • Discrimination: including protection against any form of discrimination
  • Pay and working hours: including annual leave, working time regulation and national minimum wage

Constructive dismissal

Employment law describes constructive dismissal as a situation where the employer makes the employment conditions to become very intolerable until you are forced to quit. However, there is controversy over whether the employer’s actions need to specifically be targeted on you or not if you have to claim unfair dismissal.

Normally, one needs to have had at least one year of continuous service before he/she can make a formal complaint to the employment tribunal. However, if one is being dismissed for the automatically unfair reasons, they don’t need any minimum service requirement. Normally, tribunals receive your claim within three months from the effective termination date.

Tribunals are not only time consuming, but also embarrassing to employers as they conduct public hearings. That is why many people try to settle claims before they go to tribunals.

Going to tribunal

Employment tribunals are not as formal as constitutional courts although a big number of the same protocols are applicable. One can chose to send a legal representative or represent him. Usually, it is employer who carries the burden of prove that there was a fair reason for your dismissal and that the statutory disciplinary procedures were followed. The tribunal decides if the employer acted reasonably within the employment law in dismissing you.


Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME's favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick.

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