Law guide: Employment

See how we helped Michael

"Fantastic! The legal document I used was so comprehensive and easy to complete. It is very reassuring to know my business now has this level of protection"

Michael S, London

Unfair dismissal

Unfair dismissal


The law gives most employees the right not to be unfairly dismissed. An employee who feels they were dismissed unfairly could make a claim for unfair dismissal at an Employment Tribunal.

If that happens, you must be able to show, not only that you had good reason to dismiss your employee, but also that you acted fairly in the way in which you handled the dismissal.

You must therefore show that you were lawfully entitled to dismiss the employee and that the dismissal was fair. If not, the tribunal may either make an order for reinstatement or re-engagement, or award the employee monetary compensation.

Generally, an employee must have 2 years' continuous service to be able to pursue a claim for unfair dismissal. However, there are a number of exceptions for which there is no qualifying period.

The burden of proof

Usually the burden of proving that the dismissal was fair lies with the employer. To successfully resist a claim, the employer will have to show that:

  • the reason for the dismissal was a fair one; and
  • they acted reasonably in the way the dismissal was carried out.

For a dismissal to be held to be fair, an employer must show that the reason for dismissal fell within one or more of the following categories:

  • Capability or qualifications of the employee
  • Conduct of the employee
  • Redundancy
  • The employment could not continue without a breach of a statutory duty or restriction
  • There was some other substantial reason justifying dismissal

The employer must also show that it acted reasonably in treating one of the above reasons as a ground for dismissal.

Copyright © 2024 Epoq Group Ltd. All trademarks acknowledged, all rights reserved

This website is operated by Epoq Legal Ltd, registered in England and Wales, company number 3707955, whose registered office is at 2 Imperial Place, Maxwell Road, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, WD6 1JN. Epoq Legal Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA number 645296).

Our use of cookies

We use necessary cookies to make our site work. We would also like to set some optional cookies. We won't set these optional cookies unless you enable them. Please choose whether this site may use optional cookies by selecting 'On' or 'Off' for each category below. Using this tool will set a cookie on your device to remember your preferences.

For more detailed information about the cookies we use, see our Cookie notice.

Necessary cookies

Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

Functionality cookies

We'd like to set cookies to provide you with a better customer experience. For more information on these cookies, please see our cookie notice.