Can You Claim Unfair Dismissal Under 2 Years’ Service?

9 May 2023
Losing your job or “getting sacked” can cause a lot of stress and uncertainty for employees; it can come as a huge shock and can often feel unfair. There are certain circumstances where employees can challenge their employer if they think they were let go without a valid reason. This is dependent on how long you have been employed.
Image unfair dismissal
You will need to act fast, as you only have 3 months from your final day of employment to start taking action in the event of unfair dismissal. If you’re an employer and a former employee is taking action against you, speak to our employment solicitors for our expert assistance.

What is Unfair Dismissal?

Unfair dismissal occurs when an employee is dismissed from their job without a valid reason, or the dismissal is carried out in an unfair or unreasonable manner. Some examples of unfair dismissal include:

  • Dismissal due to discrimination or harassment
  • Dismissal due to whistleblowing or reporting illegal activity
  • Dismissal without proper notice or procedure
  • Dismissal due to a trade union membership or activity

Under UK employment law, employees have the right to claim unfair dismissal if they meet certain criteria. However, one of the most significant factors is the length of service with the employer.

If you are successful in your claim of unfair dismissal, the Employment Tribunal may order compensation. There are different types of compensation, as follows:

  • A basic award, which reflects the fact you were unfairly dismissed and consists of 5 weeks’ pay for each complete year of service after reaching the age of 41, 1 weeks’ pay for each complete year of service between the ages of 22 and 40 and half a week’s pay for each complete year of service if you are under the age of 22.
  • A compensatory award, which covers any financial losses that may have incurred as a result of the dismissal. This is typically subject to a statutory requirement. 
  • Reinstatement, which means you would continue employment.

Can You Claim Unfair Dismissal Under 2 Years' Service?

In the UK, employees must have a minimum of two years' continuous service with their employer to be eligible to claim unfair dismissal. This means that if you have been employed for less than two years, you will not be able to claim unfair dismissal, unless you have been dismissed for one of the automatically unfair reasons listed above.

There are some exceptions to this rule, however. If you have been dismissed due to discrimination, you may be able to claim unfair dismissal regardless of your length of service. This is because discrimination is considered an automatically unfair reason for dismissal, and there is no minimum length of service required to claim unfair dismissal in these cases.

What to Do if You Feel You Have Been Unfairly Dismissed

If you feel that you have been unfairly dismissed, there are still some steps you can take, even if you do not have the required length of service to claim unfair dismissal. Here are some things to consider:

Speak to Your Employer
If you have been dismissed, the first step is to speak to your employer and try to resolve the issue informally. Explain your concerns and ask for an explanation of the reasons for your dismissal. If your employer has made a mistake or acted unfairly, they may be willing to reconsider their decision.

Seek Legal Advice

If you feel that you have been unfairly dismissed, it's important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. A solicitor or legal advisor can help you understand your rights and options, and may be able to negotiate a settlement with your employer or represent you at an employment tribunal.

Consider Other Legal Claims

Even if you are not eligible to claim unfair dismissal, you may be able to make other legal claims against your employer. For example, if you have been dismissed due to discrimination or harassment, you may be able to claim for discrimination or harassment under the Equality Act 2010.

Appeal Your Dismissal

If your employer has a formal appeals process, you may be able to appeal your dismissal. This can be a good opportunity to explain your side of the story and provide any evidence that supports your case.

Consider Mediation

If you and your employer are unable to resolve the issue informally, you may be able to use mediation to find a solution. Mediation involves an independent third party who will help you and your employer to reach a mutually acceptable resolution.

While it may not be possible to claim unfair dismissal under two years' service, there are still steps you can take if you feel that you have been unfairly dismissed. Be sure to seek legal advice and remain professional throughout the process.