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Termination of employment

English law provides protection to an employee from unfair dismissal however an employer is allowed to terminate employment if it is carried out in a fair and reasonable manner. The termination of employment can be lawful if the employee cannot properly carry out their job or if the employee is guilty of serious misconduct or if they are unable to work for any reason. Termination may also be reasonable if it is by way of redundancy which may give entitlement to compensation for employees with more than two years service. If the redundancy is a sham then any dismissal is automatically unfair potentially leading to an unfair dismissal compensation claim.

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Time limits for claims

The protection to employees against unfair dismissal only extends to those employees who have worked for the particular employer for a period greater than one year and are under normal retirement age. Time limits apply and a claim must be filed in the Employment Tribunal within three months of the termination however the Employment Tribunal can, at their discretion, extend this period.

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Lawful termination

In order to establish that the termination of employment is fair an employer must be shown to have acted in a reasonable manner. An employer is required to fully investigate the situation leading up to the termination and to be able to fully justify the dismissal failing which the employee may have a valid claim for compensation. To justify termination an employer must show that it was for conduct, capability, redundancy, illegality or for some other substantial reason. An employer can legally terminate employment in the following circumstances :-

    An employee must behave in a reasonable manner and if his conduct is unacceptable including theft, dishonesty, corruption, drug abuse, drunkenness, abusive behaviour, unjustified absences, regular lateness or unsuitable appearance then an employer may dismiss the employee without fear of retribution from an Employment Tribunal.

    If an employee is unable to do the job in a satisfactory manner then the employer is entitled to replace him with some who can do the job.

    Dismissal can be fair if it is by reason of redundancy however there are detailed procedures which must be followed by an employer if the termination is not to be deemed unfair dismissal. It is almost always worth considering the redundancy process as there are many hurdles where an employer can fall thereby giving an employee the opportunity to claim compensation always providing that the employee has been employed by that employer for at least two years.

    If continuation of employment causes a breach of the law then the employment can be terminated legally. This particularly applies in regards to work permits for employees from outside the EU.

    Dismissal can be fair for other substantial reasons and an Employment Tribunal is duty bound to consider any new situations that may arise that they have not dealt with before.

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Unlawful termination

Unfair dismissal may arise in any number of circumstances if termination of employment occurred due to any of the following reasons :-

    If the employee suffered from discrimination which includes inappropriate or unfair treatment due to an employees race, sex, religious belief, disability or sexuality.

    Employees are entitled by law to be members of a Trade Union and to take part in union activities and employees are also entitled to refuse to belong to a union. If the employee is dismissed because they did, or did not join a union then the dismissal may be unfair.

    Employees are entitled to take leave including maternity leave, paternity leave, ante-natal leave, parental leave and dependants leave and any termination due to an employee actually taking their entitlement to recognised leave is unfair.

    It is not lawful to dismiss employees who take part in industrial action for less than eight weeks. There may be certain unusual circumstances where the period may be extended.

    Employees are entitled to refuse to work more than 48 hours and dismissal for refusing to work more than 48 hours is unfair.

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