The law of unfair dismissal in the United Kingdom operates, essentially, to protect employees from being dismissed for no good reason. Advising clients in relation to possible claims for unfair dismissal involves a number of factual and legal issues, including:
Whether the client was an employee. This is a highly technical concept, overlaid with a mass of case law. The crucial deciding factor is normally whether the client had a contract of employment, but this may not be conclusive.
The length of time for which the client was employed.
The reason for the dismissal. Statutory rules governing unfair dismissal provide a number of reasons which may make a dismissal fair.
Whether the employer acted in accordance with prescribed procedures.
Whether the employer acted reasonably.
Most readers will be aware that the United States has no National Health Service. They may not know that neither does the US have a law of unfair dismissal. Most employees in America are employed “at will”. This means that either the employer or the employee may end the employment relationship ay any time, subject to the contract of employment and laws prohibiting discrimination. The view of Frederick Place Chambers is that any move to introduce this “hire and fire” philosophy into the English legal system should be strongly resisted.