Unfair Dismissal

According to the Annual Tribunal Statistics 2010 – 2011 40% of unfair dismissal claims that proceed to a final hearing succeed. The maximum award in that year was over £181,000. However, on average nearly £9,000 is awarded to successful employees. The number of unfair dismissal claims has declined somewhat since the year 2009 – 2010. However, they still account for 47,900 of complaints presented to the tribunal (slightly under a quarter of all complaints).

The right not to be unfairly dismissed can be engaged in various ways. First, there are dismissals where the kind of reason for the dismissal is prescribed by law as rendering the dismissal automatically unfair. For example, dismissal by reason of pregnancy, childbirth or maternity renders the dismissal automatically unfair.

In other cases, the reason for dismissal might not be one of the prescribed reasons that render a dismissal potentially fair such as capability, conduct, or redundancy. However, the majority of cases involve assertion by an employer that the reason for dismissal does render the dismissal potentially fair but then the tribunal focuses on the second part of the test of unfair dismissal; namely, whether notwithstanding that the reason does fall within the potentially fair categories the dismissal is fair or unfair having regard to the circumstances of the particular case. The focus of the second part of the test is whether the employer acts reasonably or unreasonably in treating his reason for dismissal as a sufficient reason for dismissal. The second part of the test can involve complex considerations that litigants should seek professional advice about if they wish to be in a position to advance their best interests.