On a daily basis, we get enquiries from people wanting to claim unfair dismissal who have been working somewhere for less than a year and are sacked on the spot with no due process, notice or in fact what appears to be no valid reason what so ever.
Although this may seem grossly unfair and often is, unfortunately there is little protection for people who have been working for less than a year in a company or organisation.
Continuity of service
In most cases you will have had to have worked for a company continuously for “not less than one year”, (the coalition government are currently considering whether or not continuity of service should be extended to two years – UPDATE: As of 6 April 2012 the law has changed. Please see the following article to find out more.).
For example if Miss Brown has been working for a company and her employment date started on the 12th December 2009 but she was dismissed on the 11th December 2010, this would qualify her to bring a claim against her employer.
In some cases an employee may be dismissed just short of one years continuous service, but are then asked to work their notice, in which case they may also be able to bring a claim.
For example if Mr Jones has been working in for 11 months and 1 week, and is dismissed, but the employer asks him to then work their months notice, this may also qualify them to bring a claim against the employer.
Automatically unfair dismissals
There are, however, several exceptions to the rule where an employer meaning that you don’t necessarily have to have one years continuous service in order to bring a claim. Many people are unaware of these circumstances and we will cover the main ones briefly below.
Any dismissal relating to any of the following could be considered automatically unfair:
- Pregnancy, maternity/paternity leave or childbirth;
- Whistleblowing (for instance if you bring up a health and safety issue in the workplace and are sacked as a result.);
- ‘Spent’ Convictions;
- TUPE (Transfer of Undertaking (Protection of Employment) Act);
- Asserting a statutory right;
Some of the less common reasons for automatic unfair dismissal are any dismissal relating to:
- Sunday working;
- Asserting the right to entitlement to the minimum wage;
- Retirement (if the correct procedure has not be followed);
- Rights to request flexible working hours;
- Jury service;
- Right to have a representative at a grievance or disciplinary hearing;
- Making requests for study and training.
They are a few other exceptions to the rule, but they are very rare.
We will be following this article up with some more detailed articles on each of the above reasons which may deem a dismissal automatically unfair.