Unfair Dismissal

You may be dismissed by your Employer for the following reasons:

  1. Capability
  2. Misconduct
  3. Illegality
  4. Retirement
  5. Redundancy
  6. Some other substantial reason

There are separate procedures that an Employer must follow when dismissing an employee for any of the above reasons. If an Employer fails to follow procedure this could potentially make the dismissal procedurally unfair.

In some circumstances and employee may have felt pushed to resign from their position. This can be referred to as 'constructive unfair dismissal'. Essentially, what this means is that there has been a fundamental breach of contract and the employee has had no alternative but to resign. Before resigning in this situation, an employee must follow through the grievance procedure and must also provide a detailed letter of resignation, identifying the precise reasons why he/she is resigning.

Grievance And Disciplinary Procedure

Disciplinary Procedure

It is important for an Employer to ensure that prior to dismissing an employee, that a fair and reasonable disciplinary procedure is conducted. This is to allow the Employer to explain why the employee is being reprimanded and to allow the employee an opportunity to defend himself/herself.

An Employer should firstly investigate the matter first and then decide whether or not a disciplinary hearing is necessary. If so, then the Employer should send the employee an 'invitation letter' inviting the employee to attend a disciplinary hearing. The letter should provide sufficient detail as to why the hearing is being conducted and should state the allegations made against the employee. The letter should also warn of the consequences and sanctions that could result at the disciplinary hearing. The employee will also have the right to be accompanied at the disciplinary hearing by a fellow co-worker or a trade union representative. The employee should also be given the opportunity to appeal against the decision.

Grievance Procedure

ACAS, the conciliatory service, define a grievance as a 'concerns, problems or complaints that an employee raises with an employer'. The purpose of a grievance is to bring a work issue to the attention of the employer in order for the matter to be rectified.

The Employer has a duty to investigate a grievance raised by an employee. The employee must initially provide a detailed grievance letter, stating the reasons why a complaint is being raised. The Employer must then investigate the grievance within a reasonable period of time. The employee should be invited to attend a grievance hearing. At the grievance hearing, the grievance will either be upheld or dismissed. The employee will have a right to appeal against the decision.

Discrimination

Discrimination Law in the UK is governed collectively by the Equality Act 2010. This came into force in October 2010. It essentially replaces previous legislation that dealt with Discrimination Law (such as Race Relations Act 1976, The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995).

It is unlawful to treat an employee less favourably on the grounds of their sex, race, disability, age, religion or belief, sexual orientation, marital or civil partner status, gender re-assignment or pregnancy.

Discrimination can occur in the following ways:

Direct discrimination is treating someone less favourably because of their actual or perceived religion and belief, or because of the religion or belief of someone with whom they associate

Indirect discrimination: can occur where there is a policy, practice or procedure which applies to all workers, but particularly disadvantages workers who hold a particular religion or belief.

Harassment: when unwanted conduct related to religion or belief has the purpose or effect of violating an individual's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual

Victimisation: unfair treatment of a worker who has made or supported a complaint about discrimination because of religion or belief

Steps to take if you feel you are being discriminated against:

  1. Speak to your Employer informally to make them aware that you have an issue at work
  2. If the discrimination is still taking place then write a formal complaint and go through the grievance procedure
  3. If the matter has not been resolved you could potentially bring a claim to the Employment Tribunal for discrimination. This should be brought within three months less a day from the date that the discriminatory act took place.

Age Discrimination

It is unlawful to discriminate against someone because of their age. The Employer should ensure that its practice and procedures do not discriminate against an employee's age in relation to:

  • recruitment and selection
  • determining pay
  • training and development
  • selection for promotion
  • discipline and grievances
  • countering bullying and harassment.

Race/Ethnicity Discrimination

It against the law to discriminate against an employee's race, colour, nationality and ethnicity. An Employer should ensure that it monitors against such discrimination in the work place.

  • recruitment and selection
  • determining pay
  • training and development
  • selection for promotion
  • discipline and grievances
  • countering bullying and harassment.

Sex Discrimination

An Employer should ensure that an employee is not treated differently because of his/her sex. An example of this may be whereby a male employee is promoted to a position because he is able to work later than his female counter-part and puts in more hours at work.

A reasonable Employer should ensure that an employee is not discriminated against because of his/her sex for the following reasons:

  • recruitment and selection
  • determining pay
  • training and development
  • selection for promotion
  • discipline and grievances
  • countering bullying and harassment.

Disability Discrimination

It is unlawful to discriminate against someone because of a disability. The Employer should ensure that its practice and procedures do not discriminate against an employee's disability in relation to:

  • recruitment and selection
  • determining pay
  • training and development
  • selection for promotion
  • discipline and grievances
  • countering bullying and harassment

The Equality Act 2010 states that a person has a disability if:

  • They have a physical or mental impairment
  • The impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to perform normal day-to-day activities

When bringing a claim for Disability Discrimination, it is important to know the definitions of the following words:

  • 'substantial' means more than minor or trivial
  • 'long-term' means that the effect of the impairment has lasted or is likely to last for at least twelve months (there are special rules covering recurring or fluctuating conditions)
  • 'normal day-to-day activities' include everyday things like eating, washing, walking and going shopping

Sexual Orientation

You are protected against sexual orientation discrimination if:

  • You are lesbian, gay, bisexual or heterosexual
  • People think you are gay, lesbian or heterosexual when you are not
  • You have gay friends or visit gay clubs

An Employer should strive to make sure that an employee is not discriminated against at work because his/her sexual orientation.

It is unlawful to discriminate against someone because of his/her sexual orientation. The Employer should ensure that its practice and procedures do not discriminate against an employee's sexual orientation in relation to:

  • recruitment and selection
  • determining pay
  • training and development
  • selection for promotion
  • discipline and grievances
  • countering bullying and harassment

Religious Discrimination

There is no specific list that sets out what can be regarded as religious discrimination. This area of law covers all types of religion. Employers should ensure that they respect the religious beliefs of their employees. It can often be beneficial for Employers to have provisions in place to allow employees to follow their faith in the workplace. This could involve allocating space for prayer rooms, giving employees time off for religious holidays, and or relaxing the dress code to allow an employee to dress according to their faith.

It is unlawful to discriminate against someone because of his/her religion. The Employer should ensure that its practice and procedures do not discriminate against an employee's religion in relation to:

  • recruitment and selection
  • determining pay
  • training and development
  • selection for promotion
  • discipline and grievances
  • countering bullying and harassment