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Getting Sacked – Know Your Rights

Getting Sacked - Know Your Rights

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If you face being sacked from your job then you need to know your rights. While you deal with the financial and emotional trauma of being fired, it’s important to know where you stand.


Employers are obliged to give you a valid reason for your dismissal and act reasonably under the circumstances. They must be able to show that any incidents leading to your dismissal have been fully investigated. If you’re an employee with over two years’ service, you have the right to ask for your dismissal in writing and your employer should provide this within two weeks.

Notice period

In most circumstances you will be entitled to a period of notice from your employer. The length of the notice period will be set out in the terms of your contract. However, there are situations, such as violence, where it is reasonable for an employee to be dismissed with immediate effect.

Reasons for being sacked

There are numerous reasons why an employer may decide to dismiss you. One of the most common is not delivering work to the expected standard. If this is the case, you should have already been warned that your work is below par and offered support in improving. Gross misconduct is another justifiable reason for sacking someone. While it is open to interpretation, the term generally refers to things that can get you fired, without going through the required disciplinary measures. These could include things like, acting violently or taking illegal drugs in the workplace. You may also be fired if you are sent to prison, have a change in circumstances that make it impossible for you to continue with your role, or it’s no longer possible to employ you.

Other reasons for dismissal

Employers sometimes dismiss people who have been off sick long term. Before they take the final step, they should offer some form of support to help you perform your role within the company. You should also be allowed a reasonable amount of time to recover from illness. If you have lost your job as a result of a disability, you may have a case of unlawful discrimination. Redundancy is another form of dismissal, although people wouldn’t usually refer to it as getting sacked. In most cases redundancy is fair (sometimes even voluntary) but if the reasons for your selection are unjust, then you may have been unfairly dismissed.

Unfair dismissal

Getting Sacked - Know Your RightsIf you believe your dismissal wasn’t reasonable then you may be able to claim unfair dismissal. This is particularly true if your employer did not have a valid reason for sacking you, or did not adhere to disciplinary procedures beforehand. You may also fight for unfair dismissal if you believe you were fired because you announced a pregnancy, took maternity/paternity leave entitled to you, requested flexible working or tried to claim Working Tax Credits.

Making a claim

Unresolved problems between employers and employees facing dismissal can be resolved at an employment tribunal. To go to a tribunal you must have been an employee of the company for at least two years and you must make your claim within three months of being dismissed. Before you make a claim you need to inform the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) that you are going to do so. They’ll offer you a free service to try and resolve the matter out of court. If this doesn’t work then your claim will go ahead to tribunal.

Employment tribunal

Employees usually have to pay a fee to make a claim, but if you are on low income you may qualify for help and if your claim is successful then it’s likely that your employer will have to pay the fee anyway. You can print off a form and make your claim by post, or submit it online. Your employer has 28 days to respond to the claim and offer their version of events. The tribunal will then assess the information and decide whether to go to a full hearing.


If you are successful in your claim your employer will be ordered to recompense you, pay your legal fees or even give you your job back. If your claim isn’t successful then you have the right to appeal the decision. To do this, you have to put your request in writing within two weeks of the hearing. Your appeal must give good reasons why you want the decision to be reconsidered.




About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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