Unfair Dismissal Solicitors - Employment Compensation Claims

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the termination, the employer is always required to be both fair and reasonable. For example, an employer is well advised to issue warnings about unacceptable behaviour and give the employee a chance to rectify the situation before moving forward with termination which may otherwise be determined by the Employment Tribunal to be an unfair dismissal. When an employer decides that termination is necessary, there must be a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the employment so that the decision can be justified. Failure to provide reasonable grounds for termination can result in the employees unfair dismissal solicitor making a claim for compensation to the Employment Tribunal.

To qualify for an award of damages under an unfair dismissal compensation claim the applicants solicitor must show that they were dismissed rather than being made redundant and that the dismissal was harsh, unjust or unreasonable. Remedies available following a successful unfair dismissal compensation claim include reinstatement and damages.Our unfair dismissal solicitors like to succeed, its how we make a living. If you would like free advice from an unfair dismissal solicitor without any further obligation just email our offices, send the contact form or use the helpline.

Damages Criteria

Awards of compensation are appropriate if reinstatement is not a reasonable option and the Employment Tribunal may consider the following issues in awarding damages as a result of a successful unfair dismissal compensation claim :-

  • effect of an award on the viability of the employers business
  • length of service with the employer
  • applicants remuneration
  • employee mitigation of loss since dismissal
  • remuneration from other employment to date of order
  • likely income between making the order and payment
  • any other relevant matters

Statutory Definition

There is no statutory definition of the term unfair dismissal. Solicitors will usually interpret it as meaning termination of employment, carried out for no good reason or termination of employment without going through an agreed company procedure. The employees contract of employment and relevant legislation will usually protect an employee from being dismissed without good reason and allow recourse to the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal compensation claims or re-instatement. In addition there are other laws that may be relevant to the termination of employment including the Race Relations Act, the Disability Discrimination Act (1995) and the Sex Discrimination Act. All of the legislation should therefore be considered in detail prior to any application to the Employment Tribunal, the Employment Appeals Tribunal or the Court of Appeal for unfair dismissal compensation.

UK law provides protection from unfair dismissal and victims are entitled to recover financial losses in the Employment Tribunal. The legal definition is complex as incidences of employment termination can be unlawful for many different reasons. To find out whether a specific incident constitutes a valid compensation claim it is necessary to speak to an unfair dismissal solicitor as soon as possible after termination. There are strict time limits for solicitors applications to the Employment Tribunal.

Fair or Unfair

Not all dismissals are unlawful and there are many circumstances where an employer can justifiably terminate employment as a result of the errant behaviour or the incompetence of an employee. An employee who is constantly late or abusive or dresses improperly or fails to carry out instructions can be dismissed but only after having been given warning and advice about improvement of behaviour and the consequences of failing to do so. There are some situations where employment can be terminated instantly, being gross misconduct which is a repudiation of the contract of employment such as the use of violence against a customer or staff member. Some employees mislead employers as to their abilities particularly on their CV and at interview and in these situations an employee must be given warning and if that persons performance fails to improve then the employment can be justifiably and lawfully terminated.

There are many situations where an employer unlawfully dismisses an employee some of which are obviously unlawful and some of which are more subtle such as the sham redundancy of a pregnant employee because of the inconvenience it will cause the business or the unjustified termination of employment for non-substantial reasons because an allegedly justified dismissal is cheaper than say redundancy. Some dismissals are plain bloody minded because an employer does not like the employee or some aspect of his behaviour or because they want to give the job to a friend or relative. The key word is reasonableness and if an employer has not acted reasonably in the dismissal of the employee, the chances are that an application for compensation or reinstatement to the Employment Tribunal will succeed.

    Lawful Termination

    Termination of employment can legally take place for:

    • Unacceptable Conduct - Examples of this conduct include: theft, corruption, being drunk at work, abusive behaviour, regular absences, constant lateness and unsuitable appearance.
    • Capability - When the employee is unable to satisfactorily do their job.
    • Redundancy - For a redundancy to be a fair reason for dismissal there must be an insufficiency of work and the choice of the person who is made redundant must follow a fair and consistent procedure.
    • Breaking the law - If continuing to employ a person constitutes breaking the law they can be legally dismissed. For example if a foreign worker's work permit expires, the employer can usually dismiss.
    • Substantial Reason - The vast majority of legal justification for dismissal is covered by the above categories however there are many other circumstances that are justification for lawful dismissal. It is always advisable to speak to an employment law solicitor when unsure whether termination of employment is lawful.

    Unlawful Termination

    Unfair dismissal includes any termination of employment that occurred because of:

    • Discrimination - Inappropriate treatment due to a person's race, sex, religious belief, disability, sexuality or age
    • Union membership - Having employment terminated because the employee did or did not join a union
    • Leave - Including maternity/paternity/ante-natal/parental/dependants leave
    • Medical Condition - That will not affect performance at work, for example HIV+ diagnosis.
    • Working Hours - Employees refusal to work over 48 hours a week
    • Industrial Action - It is illegal to dismiss an employee for taking part in industrial action that lasts less than eight weeks or over eight weeks in certain circumstances

Actual Termination

Employers are entitled to terminate employment however an employer must carry out the termination in a reasonable manner and on reasonable grounds otherwise it will be an unfair dismissal. There are a large number of wholly legitimate reasons for terminating employment. For instance, it may be reasonable to dismiss an employee who commits a serious act of misconduct or who is no longer able to carry out the duties of his job.


Redundancy is one reason for employment termination. Redundancy means that the employee is no longer needed because the business is closing down or because it no longer requires a worker with the employee's particular skill set. Should employment be terminated for either of these reasons, a redundancy payment is appropriate if there has been continuous employment by the organisation for at least two years. If the employer is falsely claiming redundancy to cover up a lack of reasonable grounds for termination, then the employee may have a claim for unfair dismissal.


In order to make a claim for compensation for unfair dismissal, the applicant must have been employed for at least one year and must be below the normal age of retirement. There are five permissible reasons for termination of employment which are misconduct, illegality, redundancy, capability or some other substantial reason. The compensation awarded for a successful claim for unfair dismissal is divided into two categories. The Basic Award depends on the employee's age and their length of service which is statutorily capped. The Compensatory Award which is also statutorily capped is much higher and it serves as compensation for an employee's financial losses caused by the termination, including loss of benefits and personal expenses.

Time Limits

Those who believe they have a claim for unfair dismissal should act quickly and contact a solicitor as soon as possible. The employee has only 3 months from the date of their dismissal to make their unfair dismissal compensation claim in the Employment Tribunal (ET). If the employer gives the employee notice, then the effective date of termination will be the date on which the notice expired. If the employer does not give notice to the employee, then the effective date of termination is considered to be the date on which the cessation of work took effect. The ET does have discretion when it comes to time limits. If the ET finds that it was not reasonably practical for the employee to file the claim within the 3-month time frame, it can opt to extend the time for that individual.