Wed 10 May 2023

Have I been unfairly dismissed?

If you have been dismissed without good reason, or your employer has not followed an appropriate process, you may be able to raise an Employment Tribunal claim for unfair dismissal.

Am I eligible to claim unfair dismissal?

In order to make a claim for "ordinary" unfair dismissal you must:-

  • be an employee (either full or part-time);
  • have worked continuously for your employer for at least 103 weeks;
  • have been dismissed.

If you do not have the necessary length of service requirement, see our dismissed without 2 years' service fact sheet.

When might a dismissal be unfair?

A dismissal may be unfair if it is not for one of the following reasons:-

  • capability - this can relate to either poor performance or ill health;
  • conduct;
  • redundancy;
  • contravention of a statutory enactment;
  • some other substantial reason of a kind such as to justify the dismissal of an employee holding the position that the employee held.

A dismissal may also be unfair if the employer acted unreasonably when carrying it out, for example by not following a fair procedure.

What is a constructive dismissal?

Another situation where you may be able to claim unfair dismissal is where your employer's behaviour is such that you feel you have no other option but to resign, with or without notice.  It is not enough for your employer's behaviour to be unreasonable, it must have broken a significant term of the contract (including both express and implied terms) and that breach must be what caused you to leave.  This might include your employer failing to pay you, or failing to protect you from bullying.  The breach might be one serious incident, or it might be a number of incidents that, taken together, are sufficiently serious.

You should always think carefully before resigning from your employment and claiming constructive dismissal and it is strongly recommended that you take advice prior to doing so.  

Time limits

Claims for unfair or constructive dismissal must usually be made within three months of the date of termination of employment, so if the last day of employment is 15 June, the claim must be received by the tribunal on or before 14 September.  Before making an application to the employment tribunal you must contact ACAS who will offer you the chance to use Early Conciliation.  There is an automatic extension to the time limit for making the tribunal application while early conciliation takes place. 


If a claim for unfair or constructive dismissal is successful the tribunal may award compensation or, if you have requested it, order reinstatement or re-engagement (when you return to your old job or similar job on no worse terms and conditions). Where compensation is awarded, it is made up of a basic award (which is calculated on the same basis as a statutory redundancy payment) and a compensatory award.  The compensatory award is based on the actual net losses of the employee flowing from the dismissal and is subject to a statutory maximum which is subject to change on an annual basis.  Depending on the particular circumstances of a claim the tribunal may increase or decrease the compensation for a number of different reasons.  For more information on employment tribunal awards and how they are calculated see Employment tribunal awards.

Because of the time limits for making an unfair dismissal claim, if you intend to do so you should start early conciliation without delay.  For more information read Raising an employment tribunal claim.  

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