All employees with more than two years’ service are protected by law from unfair dismissal and will have the right to make a claim to an Employment Tribunal for reinstatement or compensation if they believe they have been unfairly dismissed.
There are also many dismissals which will be legally regarded as automatically unfair with no qualifying period required to claim.
Employment Tribunals can award compensation for unfair dismissal up to a statutory limit, set by the Government. From 2013 a cap was imposed to limit compensation awards to a year’s pay or the statutory limit, whichever is the lower.
Employers are statutorily required in the written statement of terms and conditions of employment to specify, by description or otherwise, a person to whom the employee can apply if they have a grievance and they are also required by statute to allow a worker to be accompanied at certain grievance hearings.
Similarly the statement must specify any disciplinary rules applicable to employees and indicate the person to whom they should apply if they are dissatisfied with any disciplinary decision.
The statement should explain any further steps that exist in any procedure for dealing with disciplinary decisions. The employer may satisfy certain of these requirements by referring the employees to a reasonably accessible document which provides the necessary information.
There is an ACAS Code of Practice which all employers should follow when taking disciplinary action against their employees, or when dealing with grievances raised by employees.
Sensible employers will also have a performance review procedure to use when dealing with employees when issues are caused by poor performance at work which is not necessarily a disciplinary issue.
Redundancy is also a dismissal and a dismissal can only be a true redundancy in certain specific circumstances, when some staff will qualify for redundancy payments.
When going through a redundancy process it is important to take certain issues into account to avoid unfair dismissal claims.
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