What is an Automatically Unfair Reason for Dismissal?

Anita North
National Head of Employment

If you’ve been dismissed from work, you might be wondering if the way you were treated was fair.  

There are some reasons for dismissal that are classed as ‘automatically unfair’. We’ll talk through what these are and what you can do if you think you’ve been dismissed for an automatically unfair reason.  

Get in touch with our expert Employment Solicitors for advice. 

Call us on 0808 258 3531 or request a callback

What Counts as an Automatically Unfair Reason for Dismissal?


There are certain reasons for dismissing an employee that are considered automatically unfair. This means that even if an employer thinks they’ve acted reasonably, a claim could be brought against them.  

Some automatically unfair reasons for dismissal include:  

  • pregnancy (and anything related to it, including maternity leave); 
  • doing jury service; 
  • needing to take family or parental leave; 
  • whistleblowing; 
  • being a trade union member or representative; 
  • asking for a legal right such as the National Minimum Wage; 
  • being involved in legal industrial action, lasting 12 weeks or less; 
  • taking action over a health and safety issue.  

If the reason for your dismissal is classed as automatically unfair, the process will be slightly different to an unfair dismissal claim as your employer will not have the opportunity to defend their decision to dismiss you. This means that any circumstances surrounding how they came to this decision won’t be considered by the Tribunal.  

It’s also important to note that there will be no minimum length of time that you need to have worked with a company if their reason for dismissing you is established as automatically unfair.  


Can I Appeal an Automatically Unfair Dismissal? 


If you believe you’ve been dismissed for an automatically unfair reason, the first thing to do is follow your employer’s internal appeal process. If you have a trade union, we’d recommend getting them involved at this point for additional support and advice. 

But the internal process unfortunately doesn’t work for everyone. If you’ve tried this route and it was unsuccessful, the next step will involve bringing your claim to the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS). This must be done within three months less one day from your dismissal date, so it’s important to seek legal advice early. 

ACAS will offer a free early conciliation service between you and your employer, giving you the chance to come to a joint agreement without going to an Employment Tribunal.  

If the early conciliation process does not result in an agreed settlement, then you can continue with your claim by submitting it to an Employment Tribunal. 

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