Dismissal in the workplace

Dismissal is when your employer ends your employment - they don’t always have to give you notice.

If you’re dismissed, your employer must show they’ve:
• a valid reason that they can justify
• acted reasonably in the circumstances
They must also:
• be consistent - eg not dismiss you for doing something that they let other employees do
• have investigated the situation fully before dismissing you - eg if a complaint was made about you

Notice period
You must be given at least the notice stated in your contract or the statutory minimum notice period, whichever is longer.
There are some situations where you can be dismissed immediately - eg for violence.

Getting your dismissal in writing
You have the right to ask for a written statement from your employer giving the reasons why you’ve been dismissed if you’re an employee and have completed 2 years’ service.
Reasons you can be dismissed
There are some situations when your employer can dismiss you fairly.

Not being able to do your job properly
You may not be able to do your job properly if, for example, you:
• haven’t been able to keep up with important changes to your job - eg a new system
• can’t get along with your colleagues
Before taking any action, your employer should:
• follow disciplinary procedures - eg warn you that your work isn’t satisfactory
• give you a chance to improve - eg by training you
You can be dismissed if you have a persistent or long-term illness that makes it impossible for you to do your job.
Before taking any action, your employer should:
• look for ways to support you - eg considering whether the job itself is making you sick and needs changing
• give you reasonable time to recover from your illness
If you have a disability (which may include long-term illness), your employer has a legal duty to support disability in the workplace.

Redundancy is a form of dismissal and is fair in most cases.
If the reason you are selected for redundancy is unfair then you will have been unfairly dismissed.

You can be dismissed for ‘gross misconduct’ without your employer going through the normal disciplinary procedures. This can happen if, for example, you’re violent towards a colleague, customer or property.
Your employer should always investigate the circumstances before making a dismissal, even in possible gross misconduct cases.

Unfair dismissal
Your dismissal could be unfair if your employer doesn’t:
• have a good reason for dismissing you
• follow the company’s formal disciplinary or dismissal process

Constructive dismissal
Constructive dismissal is when you’re forced to leave your job against your will because of your employer’s conduct.
The reasons you leave your job must be serious, for example, they:
• don’t pay you or suddenly demote you for no reason
• force you to accept unreasonable changes to how you work - eg tell you to work night shifts when your contract is only for day work
• let other employees harass or bully you
Your employer’s breach of contract may be one serious incident or a series of incidents that are serious when taken together.
You should try and sort any issues out by speaking to your employer to solve the dispute.
What to do if you're dismissed
If you’re threatened with dismissal (or are dismissed) you can get help from a third party to solve the issue by mediation, conciliation and arbitration.

Employment tribunals
If you’ve been unable to solve a problem between you and your employer, you can normally go to an employment tribunal.

Qualifying period to claim unfair dismissal
You must have worked for your employer for a minimum period before you qualify for the right to claim unfair dismissal at a tribunal. If you’re classed as an employee and started your job:
• on or after 6 April 2012 - the qualifying period is normally 2 years

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