A claim for unfair dismissal can be made if the reason for dismissal was not one of a number of ‘fair reasons’ (e.g. conduct, capability, "some other substantial reason", statutory ban or redundancy).
Most employees need a particular length of service to bring a claim for unfair dismissal. At present this is two years’ service. However, all employees can bring a claim for unfair dismissal if the reason for dismissal is deemed to make the dismissal automatically unfair (e.g. for whistleblowing or for family reasons such as dismissals for reasons connected to pregnancy, parental leave, or requests for flexible working).
Even if the dismissal is deemed to be for a fair reason, to avoid a successful claim for unfair dismissal the employer must still follow a fair procedure and act reasonably in dismissing the employee.
If the reason for the dismissal involves discrimination against the employee (because of a protected characteristic such as sex, race, age or disability), employees may make a discrimination claim irrespective of their length of service.
Employees with two years of service have the right to request a written statement of reasons for dismissal. Employers must provide the statement within 14 days of the request.
Irrespective of length of service, employees dismissed during pregnancy or statutory maternity or adoption leave are automatically entitled to a written statement of reasons for dismissal without having to request it.
An employer may not dismiss an employee without a legally valid cause.
Dismissal may be based on personal grounds (e.g. disciplinary dismissal, dismissal due to professional inadequacy, dismissal due to incapacity) or economic grounds (e.g. economic difficulties, technological changes), or subject to specific conditions, without stating a specific motive.