Automatic Unfair Dismissal from Work Explained


In England or Wales, if one or more of your statutory legal rights have been violated over dismissal from work, this is known as automatic unfair dismissal.

For a dismissal to be fair, there has to be both a fair reason for the dismissal and a fair procedure in place to deal with it. Some of the most common reasons for unfair dismissal claims are:

  • Trade union membership
  • Insisting on being paid National Minimum Wage
  • Maternity and paternity issues
  • Not following the correct dismissal procedures
  • Whistleblowing

There are many grounds for which an employee can claim automatic unfair dismissal. This area of law can be complex, so if you’re unsure you should speak to an Employment Law Solicitor.

Our Employment Law Solicitors offer free initial legal advice and may be able to deal with your case on a No Win, No Fee basis - just ask us for details.

Call us on 0808 258 3531 or request a callback

How Much Compensation for Unfair Dismissal?

The Employment Tribunal will instruct your employer on how much compensation there is to pay. This normally consists of:

  • A basic award (capped at £15,750 as of April 2019), and
  • A compensatory award (capped at £86,444 as of April 2019)

A further compensation award of up to £26,416 can be awarded to you if the Employment Tribunal imposes a reinstatement or re-engagement Order on your employer, and they fail to act upon it.

Use our Unfair Dismissal Compensation Calculator to see how much your claim could be worth.

Unfair Dismissal Under TUPE

When there is a relevant transfer under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE), affected employees are protected against dismissal.

This means that If your company has changed ownership, and you end up being sacked either before or after that takeover happens, and the reason for the sacking is connected to the takeover of the company, then this would be classed as automatic unfair dismissal.

Your Statutory Legal Rights

Statutory legal rights are covered under the Employment Rights Act 1996, which is the main piece of legislation covering automatic unfair dismissal. Automatically unfair dismissal goes hand in hand with an employee’s statutory legal rights.

It is very important that as an employee, you know the difference between automatic unfair dismissal and ordinary unfair dismissal.

In typical unfair dismissal cases, you have to have worked for your company for at least two years to be able to bring a claim. However, in cases of automatic unfair dismissal, you can make a claim regardless of how long you have worked for your company.

Reasons for Automatic Unfair Dismissal

The following reasons for dismissal may be classed as automatically unfair:

  • Pregnancy, including all reasons relating to maternity
  • Discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, gender, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marriage
  • Family, including parental leave, paternity leave, adoption leave
  • Whistleblowing
  • Acting as an employee representative
  • Acting as a Trade Union representative
  • Acting as an occupational pension scheme trustee
  • Joining or not joining a Trade Union
  • Being a part-time or fixed-term employee
  • Insisting on working for at least National Minimum Wage

It’s also automatically unfair to be dismissed from work for taking part in official industrial action. You cannot be dismissed during:

  • The 12-week period from the day the industrial action starts
  • If the action lasts longer than 12 weeks and your employer has not taken reasonable steps to resolve the dispute

Implications for Your Employer

Once it has been recognised that you have been dismissed for an automatically unfair reason, the Employment Tribunal has no reason to consider if the employer acted reasonably or not. This means as long as your claim can be substantiated, there is little your employer can do to defend their actions.

How Simpson Millar Can Help You

If you’ve been subject to disciplinary action at work, and you feel your dismissal has impacted your statutory legal rights, then it’s best to speak to an Employment Law Solicitor.

Our Employment Law Solicitors have extensive knowledge in dealing with automatically unfair dismissal claims. We understand the situation can sometimes be complex and sensitive, requiring different approaches to help solve your issue.

In many cases, clients will seek an appeasing approach, while others will require tougher action to be taken. Either way, we’re prepared to handle things the way you want us to.

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