Unfair dismissal

What if I think it’s unfair dismissal?

The minute you begin to suspect that what is happening is unfair, there are some things you must do to protect your interests:

  • Consult an expert – your union rep, ACAS or an employment lawyer. Tell them what is happening and take advice on what you should do
  • Start to create an audit trail of evidence for a possible tribunal. Gather every piece of paper you have been given so far, and keep everything you are given from now on. Make your own (detailed) notes about every meeting, whether it’s formal or informal, including the date, who was there and what was said. Go back and make notes about any meeting that has previously happened, even if you can’t remember the exact date. Ask for everything to be put in writing, and make a note of who has taken the action to do this. Sometimes, even becoming aware that you are taking notes is enough for an employer to back off
  • Do not agree to anything, or sign any document, without having it checked and taking advice first
  • Remember that you only have three months from the effective date of your redundancy to launch your tribunal application. Even though your representative may be doing this for you, they may be dealing with many cases at once, so you should keep an eye on the clock.

How to launch a tribunal action for unfair dismissal

The Employment Tribunals are independent judicial bodies who determine disputes between employers and employees over employment rights. You will find, on your journey towards a tribunal, that many opportunities open up to settle the dispute out of court, so relatively few cases actually make it as far as a hearing.

If you are acting alone, a good first step is to check whether your complaint is one that an Employment Tribunal can deal with. To do this, contact the Employment Tribunals public enquiry line on 08457 959 775 or ACAS helpline on 08457 474747 for advice.

Once you are certain that you have a case, the next step is to see if the situation can be resolved without recourse to a tribunal. To do this, you need to set out your concerns to your employer and give them the opportunity to clarify and give reasons for what they have done.

This may either be done by your representative meeting with the employer, or by writing the employer a letter. The employer should respond within 14 days (their failure to respond is also grounds for a tribunal).

If you are determined to pursue a case to tribunal, this is the point at which you really do need expert representation. If you are not a union member, then consult a specialist solicitor. The cost may seem high, but it will be worth it to secure the best result. If your case is strong, you may find a solicitor who is willing to work on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis. Other sources of help and advice can be found on this Employment Tribunals page.

There is a time limit for bringing a claim to tribunal of three months from the date of your dismissal, and your case will take time to prepare, so time really is of the essence, and you need to get moving as quickly as possible. More guidance on how to do this, and the relevant forms to fill in, are available on the Employment Tribunals website.