Being sacked from your job is often a huge shock. In many cases, it can feel very unfair. Fortunately, there is protection in law if you have been subject to unfair dismissal but you need to act quickly if you think this has been the case, because you must start action before three months less a day have passed from your last day of employment.

To check whether you have been unfairly dismissed, here is what you need to know:

1. Whether You Have Been Dismissed

You can only claim unfair dismissal in cases where your employer has dismissed you. Although this might sound obvious, it means that it is not relevant if you have resigned. If you felt pressured into resigning, or your employer acting in such a way that you felt you had to resign, you may have a case for constructive dismissal instead.

You have been dismissed from your job if:

  • Your employer ended your employment contract 
  • Your employer refused to renew your fixed-term contract
  • Your employer stopped you from coming back to work after maternity leave
  • You were dismissed for going on strike.

2. What Your Employment Status Was

You can only claim unfair dismissal if you were an employee (including if you were part-time or fixed-term). If you were self-employed or an agency worker, you can’t claim unfair dismissal. Sometimes, it might not be clear whether you were an employee or not – your employer may say that you were self-employed in order to avoid giving you certain rights – so if you are not sure, make sure that you check here, and seek advice if you need to.

3. Whether The Dismissal Reason Was Unfair

Your employer should give you a reason for dismissing you. You can challenge your dismissal if it is deemed to be ‘automatically unfair’ or because of discrimination. Automatically unfair reasons include dismissal because:

  • You are pregnant or on maternity leave
  • You reported your employer for wrongdoing
  • You requested your legal rights at work (e.g. to be paid minimum wage)
  • You took action about a health and safety issue
  • You work in a shop and refused to work on Sunday
  • You took part in trade union activities.

Of course, if you are in these categories it is still possible for you to be fairly dismissed – but they can’t be the reason you were dismissed.

Discrimination includes if you were dismissed because of your age, sex, race or a number of other characteristics that can be found here.

4. Where To Go For Help For Unfair Dismissal

If you believe that you have been subject to unfair dismissal, it is important to take action because you could be eligible for compensation from your employer. Compensation is awarded by the employment tribunal.

If you would like expert knowledge on your side, our employment law team is here for you. You can count on us to offer solid advice and to fight your corner.