Legal disputes

Fair & Unfair dismissal

Many people will be familiar with the basics of claiming unfair dismissal in terms that the employee will need to have worked for the employer for 1 year to claim unfair dismissal, that a fair dismissal can be on the grounds of capability, conduct and so forth and that unfair dismissal can be either procedural unfairness or substantive unfairness or perhaps a combination of both.

It is worth remembering that the easy way for an employer to be caught out and found legally liable underemployment law for unfair dismissal is to fail to comply with procedure. The starting point here is always to check your own  employment contracts, policies and procedures as an employer, If you don’t comply with these, it will look very bad to the Tribunal. The procedure needs to be fair, transparent, to be communicated to the employee in terms of outcome and for there to be a right of appeal.

However, what most employees perhaps don’t know is that the substantive unfair dismissal law is generally favourable to the employer. This is due to it being based on the “range of reasonable responses” test. This is a highly important legal concept. In essence, subject to procedural fairness, if an employer acts, in relation to any given employment law situation within a range of reasonable responses an employer may have, they will not have unfairly dismissed. For example, if an employee is persistently late to work, the employer gives a series of warnings in accordance with it’s procedures and then sacks after a final written warning is breached, and this all happens, say, over a few months, some might say this would be harsh, but it would be likely to be within the range of reasonable responses, which includes the unsympathetic type employer as much as the laid back type. Importantly, the Employment tribunal panel which may hear the case for unfair dismissal may think the employer has been harsh on that employee, but they are not allowed to substitute their own opinions and attitudes for that of the employer. Consequently, they are only tasked with ascertaining whether the employer is within the wide band of responses an employer may have to that given situation. Unless the employers response is manifestly outside anything reasonable, there is no unfair dismissal, as long as procedurally the employer has complied with necessary practice.

So, even though employers will almost always tell you that employment law is against them, and in terms of time, cost and effort, they are probably right, when it comes to the legal test for unfair dismissal, this is largely favourable to the employer according to Ben Jones of Darlingtons Solicitors.