Your options if you've been dismissed

  • Posted: November 1st, 2021
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  • Category: Employment

Your options when you're dismissed

Having a job is an essential part of most people’s lives and it's medically proven to improve our mental health. When you lose your job there's quite a lot of things you need to think about, such as paying for your essential living costs like your rent. So the first thing you should do is check if your dismissal is fair.

First you need to figure out whether you are an employee, worker or self-employed, this section of the national Citizens Advice website explains the difference between the two. If you're a worker you won't be able to bring an unfair dismissal claim although you may have a claim for contractual rights, like a right to be given work for a fixed term or a right to subject to the disciplinary procedure which if used wouldn’t have led to you losing your job, and statutory rights, such as the right to holiday, notice and sick pay. If you're a worker, have a look at this section of the national Citizens Advice website to find out if you've been paid correctly. If you're self-employed you might be able to bring a breach of contract claim in the County Court but you have to do this within six years of the breach.

The second step is to work out whether you have two years continuous service. If there are any gaps longer than a week where you didn't get paid or do any work, you need help from an adviser to work out whether or not your continuity has been broken.

If you do have two years continuous service you have the statutory right not to be unfairly dismissed. Your employer can dismiss you fairly if the reason for the dismissal is either: conduct, for something you did wrong; capability, where you're not able to do your job; redundancy, where there is no more work for you, although you should at least get redundancy pay; or some other substantial reason. Even if the employer has a fair reason, you should still check if the employer followed a fair procedure. You can use this section of the national Citizens Advice website to work out whether or not you can challenge your dismissal.

If you don't have two years continuous service and you're an employee, you might be able to bring a claim for automatic unfair dismissal if you can show that the main reason for you dismissal was due to reasons such as: pregnancy or maternity; health and safety; whistleblowing; or trying to assert basic statutory employment rights, such as the right to paid time off. If you're being dismissed because of a transfer of the employer’s business to a new owner, this might also be automatic unfair dismissal if a good reason hasn’t been given - either way, you should get advice to find out because the law in this area is complex.

If you can't bring any of these claims you might still consider bringing a claim for discrimination at work or a claim for not being getting your basic statutory entitlements like notice pay, holiday pay and a written statement of terms.

If you're pregnant or you have two years continuous service, you have a statutory right written reasons for the dismissal, but you need to ask for this as soon as possible. You could bring a separate claim if they don't do this - it also don't look very good on your employer if you’re also claiming unfair dismissal. If neither of these situations apply to you or you're not an employee, you can still ask the employer for a reason, you should also check your contract to see if you have a contractual right to a written reason.

The law recognises that sometimes the employer doesn't make it explicitly clear that you're being dismissed, and so your employer might try to create circumstances that make you feel like you're no longer welcome without actually telling you that you're dismissed, hoping that you’ll just quit and move on. If you’re an employee and the reason for this is an automatically unfair one, or you have two years continuous service, you might claim constructive unfair dismissal instead, which is basically where you sack your employer. These types of cases are very difficult to win, so you should get advice before you decide to resign.

If you are wanting to bring a claim to challenge your dismissal, there are time limits. Make sure you contact ACAS early conciliation no later than three months less one day of the last day you worked for your employer, or six months less one day if it's a redundancy dismissal. If you don’t, the claim could be struck out because it’s ‘statute barred’. Despite these time limits, no claim should be left to the last minute.

It's important that you start looking for work, making a record of your endeavours, and apply for any welfare benefits that you are entitled to. This is because you have a duty to mitigate your losses if you're going to bring a claim for compensation in the Employment Tribunal. If you don’t, the employer could try to argue that they shouldn’t pay all of your costs. You may be able to get help to find another job from the National Careers Service and your local Job Centre Plus.

If you need a benefit check, you can find out how to use a benefit calculator on the Citizens Advice website or you can speak to one of our advisers instead. Don't assume that you won't get anything because your partner works or get money from somewhere else. If you've contributed full years of National Insurance in the previous two tax years,  you may be entitled to contribution based benefits like new style Job Seekers Allowance, instead of Universal Credit. If you’re waiting for money from benefits, find out what you can do if you’re struggling to pay your basic living costs on the national Citizens Advice website.

If you need more help to work out whether you can challenge or dismissal or you just want help to claim benefits and find other work, please do get in touch. We offer help with housing, benefits and debt as well as employment, and we work as a team to help you find a way forward. 

  • Posted: 01/11/21
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  • Category: Employment
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