What are Your Rights if Your Employer Unfairly Dismisses You?

With the coming economic headwinds in the UK, the financial situations of many companies may become increasingly dire, and it is possible that one of their responses may be to shed staff. If it does happen to you, what are your rights?

In some situations, you may be able to take legal action if you’re dismissed.

Your dismissal could be unfair if your employer does not have a good reason for dismissing you, or if it did not follow the company’s formal disciplinary or dismissal process.

An employer must show that the reason falls into one of the categories set out in the Employment Rights Act 1996. These are as follows:

  • That the employee lacked capability or qualification.
  • That the dismissal was a result of the conduct of the employee, such as dishonesty or a poor attendance record.
  • That there was a genuine redundancy, in that the nature of the business has changed and you are no longer needed.
  • If employing you broke a law, for instance if you had to drive for your job, but had been banned from driving. 

Other situations when your dismissal is likely to be unfair include if you asked for flexible working, refused to give up your working time rights – for example, to take rest breaks, or applied for maternity or paternity leave. 

Joining a trade union, taking part in legal industrial action or exposing wrongdoing in the workplace are also likely to be judged as reasons for unfair dismissal. 

If you’ve been dismissed, or are threatened with dismissal, you can get help from a third party to solve the issue by mediation, conciliation and arbitration. If you are a member of a trade union, they will almost certainly back you if the termination is unfair. 


If you’ve been unable to solve a problem between you and your employer, you can normally take the issue to an employment tribunal.

However, you must have worked for your employer for a minimum period before you qualify for the right to claim unfair dismissal at a tribunal. This can be between one and two years, depending on when you started working. 

With unfair dismissal claims, you have to take the claim to a tribunal within three months of being dismissed.

Settlement Agreements 

A Settlement Agreement is a legally binding contract made between an employer and employee. It is usually entered into at the termination of employment and sets out the full terms between both parties.

In its most basic form, the Settlement Agreement will provide for termination payments, which may include your notice period, a tax-free lump sum, redundancy, holiday, bonus, and other payments. 

The process of reaching a Settlement Agreement is recognised by statute and is one of the few ways that such agreement between an employer and employee can be totally binding in law. 

Therefore, you should take independent legal advice on the document, usually from a solicitor, before it becomes binding. The solicitor also needs to certify the agreement.

PowellsLaw has a great deal of experience in unfair dismissals, worker’s tribunals and Settlement Agreements. 

To help you get a full understanding of your options, we offer a free initial no obligation discussion, to ensure you get the best outcome, at the right cost. We have seen that better outcomes are achieved when one of our experienced solicitors are brought in at an early stage, before potentially costly mistakes are made. Contact us on 01934 623 501 or email helpforyou@powellslaw.com

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