Losing your job for any reason is likely to be stressful and disruptive. And it’s even worse if you think your employer has acted unfairly.

There are situations where employers are entitled to terminate a contract, but they must have a lawful reason, give the agreed amount of notice and follow a fair procedure.

To be legally protected against unfair dismissal, you must have at least two years of continuous service with your employer. There are some statutory fair reasons for dismissal, and if your dismissal isn’t for one of those, it could be unfair.

The law treats some reasons for dismissal as so unacceptable that they’re “automatically unfair”. In most cases of automatically unfair dismissal, you’re protected from day one in a new job. Examples include dismissals for being a trade union member, being pregnant, whistleblowing or asserting your statutory rights (e.g. asking for flexible working or paternity leave).

You’re also protected where a dismissal is discriminatory. From day one, your employer can’t dismiss you for a reason that relates to race, disability, sex, pregnancy or maternity, marriage or civil partnership, being transgender, sexual orientation, religion or belief.

Common
questions
What is an automatically unfair dismissal?
Dismissals that the law treats as so unacceptable that they are automatically unfair...
What is a fair dismissal?
In a claim to an employment tribunal, the employer has to show that the reason for the dismissal, or the principal reason if there is more than one, was one of the statutory fair reasons under the Employment Rights Act 1996...
What is unfair dismissal?
Unfair dismissals are terminations of employment by the employer where the reason for dismissal is not one of the statutory fair reasons or the reason for dismissal was for one of the statutory fair reasons, but the employer acted unreasonably in deciding to dismiss for that reason.
How can I claim against my employer if I feel I've been unfairly dismissed?
You should get advice quickly, as tribunal deadlines are short. The first step is to contact Acas...