What is Unfair Dismissal?

Unfair dismissal is a critical issue in employment law, and it affects both employees and employers. It occurs when an employee is unreasonably terminated from their job. In this blog, we’ll explore what classes as unfair dismissal, and the legal protections available.

What Makes It Unfair Dismissal?

Unfair dismissal refers to situations in employment when an employee is terminated from their role unlawfully. This concept is designed to protect employees from being dismissed from their jobs without a fair cause. Unfair dismissal laws ensure employees are treated justly and that employers adhere to lawful practices when ending employment contracts.

If an employee has worked for their employer for at least 2 years and any of the following apply, they could have been unfairly dismissed.

  • There was no fair reason for the dismissal.
  • The reason wasn’t enough to justify dismissal.
  • A fair procedure wasn’t followed by the employer.

What Constitutes an Unfair Dismissal?

Several factors contribute to unfair dismissal. Here are the main aspects:

Lack of Valid Reason

If an employer can’t provide a valid reason for the dismissal, it may be considered unfair. Valid reasons typically include poor performance at work, misconduct, or redundancy.


Dismissal based on protected characteristics such as race, gender, age, religion, or sexual orientation is considered unfair. If an employer believes they have been unfairly dismissed due to discrimination, they could make a claim to an employment tribunal for both discrimination and unfair dismissal.

Automatically Unfair Reasons

If an employee was dismissed because of any of the following reasons, it’s always an automatically unfair reason for dismissal:

  • The employee makes a flexible working request
  • The employee is pregnant, on maternity leave, or wanting to take family leave
  • The employee has asked about their legal rights at work
  • The employee has reported the employer for wrongdoing (whistleblowing)
  • The employee has taken action about a health and safety issue
  • The employee is a trade union member

How Can You Prove You Have Been Unfairly Dismissed?

Proving you have been unfairly dismissed can be difficult, but it’s important to gather any evidence that supports your claim. This could include documentation of the dismissal such as emails, letters, or text messages. If you have been unfairly dismissed, you should always try and get it in writing to support your claim.

Additionally, witness statements from colleagues or others who witnessed the unfair dismissal or can attest to the circumstances are crucial.


What do I do if I believe I’ve been unfairly dismissed?

If you believe you’ve been unfairly dismissed, you can challenge your dismissal by appealing through your employer’s appeal process, or making a claim to an employment tribunal. Seeking advice from an employment lawyer can help your case.

How long do you have to be able to make an unfair dismissal claim?

After you have been unfairly dismissed, you have three months to begin the process.

Can I claim unfair dismissal if I have been employed for less than 2 years?

To claim unfair dismissal, employees must have been working for their employer for at least two years.

Back to News