Unfair Dismissals from Work

What protection do I have under unfair dismissals?

It is unlawful for your employer to dismiss you from your job on any of the nine protected grounds listed in the Employment Equality Acts or for any other reason listed in the Unfair Dismissal Acts.


It is also unlawful for you to be dismissed due to trade union membership.


If you have at least one year’s service with your employer, you are also protected in other ways. For example, if you are accused of misconduct, you have the right to a fair and impartial hearing and determination of the issues, the right to an appeal, the right to be presented with the full details of what you are accused of etc. At all times you should seek the assistance of your union rep if you are being subject to a disciplinary hearing of facing a dismissal.


What type of redress is available if I am found to be unfairly dismissed?

If the dismissal has been deemed unfair you are entitled to re-instatement in your job or re-engagement in your job or granted a suitable alternative job on conditions which the adjudicating bodies consider reasonable or where financial loss has occurred, financial compensation (not exceeding 104 weeks’ pay or, in the case of protected disclosure dismissals, 260 weeks’ pay) or where no financial loss has occurred, financial compensation of up to 4 weeks’ pay.

What types of dismissals are set down under the Unfair Dismissals Acts as being unfair?

Dismissals are unfair under the Acts where it is shown that they have resulted wholly or mainly from one or more of the following:

  • the employee’s trade union membership or activities, either outside working hours or at those times during working hours when permitted by the employer
  • the religious or political opinions of the employee
  • the employee having made a protected disclosure
  • civil or criminal proceedings against the employer in which the employee is, or is likely to be, involved (as party, complainant, or witness)
  • the exercise or proposed exercise by the employee of the right to take statutory leave such as maternity leave etc.
  • for any of the listed 9 grounds of employment equality legislation
  • for exercising rights under maternity protection rights such as the employee’s pregnancy, attendance at ante-natal classes giving birth or breastfeeding or any matters connected therewith
  • the exercise or proposed exercise by an employee of the right to adoptive leave, additional adoptive leave, or time off to attend certain pre-adoption classes or meetings as set out in the Adoptive Leave Acts 1995 and 2005
  • the unfair selection of the employee for redundancy
  • the employee’s exercising of rights or proposed exercise of rights under the National Minimum Wage Act 2000 or under the Safety, Health, and Welfare at Work Act 2005

Does my employer have to give me a reason for dismissing me?

An employer who has dismissed an employee must, if asked, furnish in writing the reason for the dismissal.


I am an agency worker, what can I do if I believe I have been unfairly dismissed?

Agency workers have the protection of the Unfair Dismissals Acts. The person hiring the agency worker (i.e., the end user) is deemed to be the agency workers employer for the purposes of the Acts.


When can a dismissal be deemed fair?

A dismissal may be deemed fair if the principal reason for the dismissal is gross misconduct, lack of competence, capability or by reason of redundancy. The employer must prove also that he/she acted reasonably in coming to the decision to dismiss and that fair investigative and disciplinary methods were used.


What can an employee do if he/she believes they have been unfairly dismissed from work?

An employee has the protection of the Unfair Dismissals Acts if he/she has at least one year’s continuous service in employment. If the dismissal is for trade union activity, pregnancy or for taking a claim under other designated pieces of employment legislation, then there is protection from the first day of employment.


The CWU has considerable experience in addressing unfair dismissal and you should contact your union rep accordingly.