unfair dismissal

unfair dismissal
A statutory claim under the Employment Rights Act 1996. An employee who has been dismissed can make a claim to an Industrial Tribunal that he has been unfairly dismissed. If the employer is unable to show that the dismissal was fair, based on a limited number of grounds, the Industrial Tribunal will award compensation up to a statutory maximum to be paid by the employer to the former employee. Unfair dismissal applies irrespective of any contractual period of notice. Not to be confused with wrongful dismissal.

Easyform Glossary of Law Terms. — UK law terms.

unfair dismissal
in the employment law of the UK, a termination of the employment of a worker for a reason that is not permitted under statute. This area of law is statutory and is superimposed on the common law of employment. An employee is 'dismissed' if the employment is terminated without notice or where a fixed term contract expires without notice. There are 'constructive' dismissals, where the employee terminates because of the employer's conduct. frustration, as by a long illness, might not be a dismissal. As to 'unfair', the law deems a dismissal as a result of trade union membership or activity or non-membership of a trade union as unfair. Pregnancy is deemed to be an unfair reason. Making a person redundant can be unfair if the employee was wrongly selected. The general rule as to fairness depends upon two factors:
(1) whether the reason for dismissal related to the employee's capability, qualification or conduct or was that the employee was redundant or that his continued employment would itself be a breach of the law or whether there was some other substantial reason of a kind such as to justify dismissal; and
(2) whether having regard to the reason shown, the employer acted reasonably or unreasonably in the circumstances in treating that reason as sufficient reason for dismissal. The employer must show the reason for the dismissal. There is no burden of proof either way in relation to the proof of the reasonableness of the dismissal. The test applied is the test of the reasonable employer.
The remedies available for unfair dismissal are of considerable practical importance in that the remedies are of a special nature. The cases are dealt with not by the ordinary courts but by the employment tribunals. The principal remedy is reinstatement, which gives the employee his job back just as if he had never been unfairly dismissed in the first place, with the same rights and seniority as he had before. Re-engagement is a lesser remedy, the employee being re-hired in a job similar to the one he lost but not with the same continuity and seniority. Various factors are considered in making such an order, and it may not be granted, either because the employee does not want to go back or because the employer offers to demonstrate that it would be impractical to have the employee back again. The alternative remedy is a payment comprising a basic award resembling a redundancy payment, and a compensatory award that is to be just and reasonable. The award may be reduced insofar as the employee has contributed to his own dismissal. There are limits on the maximum that can be paid (£50,000 at the time of writing) in ordinary cases but no limits in some others, like sex discrimination cases. If an employer is ordered to reinstate or re-engage and does not do so, the tribunal may award a further 13–26 weeks' pay (26–52 in cases of sex discrimination or race discrimination).

Collins dictionary of law. . 2001.

unfair dismissal
1) Any dismissal that is not for a fair reason or does not follow the correct legal procedure.
2) The statutory right not to be dismissed unfairly is contained in the ERA 1996. For a dismissal to be fair it must be for one of the potentially fair reasons contained in the ERA 1996; the employer must follow a fair procedure (including, where applicable a statutory DDP); and the decision to dismiss must be within the range of reasonable responses open to an employer in the circumstances.
Related links

Practical Law Dictionary. Glossary of UK, US and international legal terms. . 2010.

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