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Unfair dismissal

Unfair dismissal is the term used to describe an employer’s action when terminating an employee’s contract unfairly. Normally the employee’s contract and employment legislation protect the employee from being dismissed unfairly, and allow recourse in law. Where an employee has grounds to believe that he has been discriminated against in being dismissed, other laws may be relevant, such as (in Britain) the Race Relations Act, the Disability Discrimination Act (1995) and the Sex Discrimination Act.

Where the employee resigns or terminates his contract (without notice) due to some action on the part of the employer which is in breach of the contract, this is known as constructive dismissal. Most employees have a right to complain of unfair dismissal to an ‘employment tribunal‘. Trade unions may support employees’ claims, and independent arbitration and conciliation services may be called upon.

Dismissal is normally fair only if the employer can show that it is for one of the following reasons

  1. a reason related to the employee’s conduct
  2. a reason related to the employee’s capability or qualifications for the job
  3. because the employee was redundant
  4. because a statutory duty or restriction prohibited the employment being continued
  5. some other substantial reason of a kind which justifies the dismissal.

and that the employer acted reasonably in treating that reason as sufficient for dismissal.

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