Nicholas Jervis: The rise of unfair dismissals and impact on employee benefits

The ongoing economic uncertainty and evolving labour market conditions caused by the pandemic have increased pressure on businesses to cut costs and adapt to a rapidly changing business landscape. To address financial strain, some employers might resort to dismissals that are unjust or not in compliance with UK employment laws. The following factors explain why some of these dismissals may be unfair or non-compliant.

UK law requires employers to follow a procedure before dismissing an employee. This typically includes conducting investigations, holding disciplinary hearings and providing the employee with an opportunity to appeal the decision. Some employers may skip or inadequately follow these processes, leading to unfair dismissals. This haste can also result in employees losing out on essential benefits, such as continued access to health insurance or proper compensation for their dismissal.

In cases of redundancy, employers must use fair and objective criteria when selecting employees for dismissal. If an employer uses subjective or biased criteria, the redundancy could be considered an unfair dismissal. Those facing financial strain may not adequately review their selection process or use inappropriate criteria. In such cases, affected employees may lose out on redundancy packages, which could have eased their transition into new employment.

Before resorting to dismissals, employers are expected to explore all reasonable alternatives, such as offering voluntary redundancies, reduced working hours, or retraining and redeployment within the company. Dismissals may be deemed unfair if employers do not adequately consider these alternatives or fail to consult with employees before making decisions. Employees who are unfairly dismissed might miss out on opportunities to retain their jobs or access training and development programmes that could help them find new roles.

These decisions not only impact employees’ financial situations, but can also have lasting effects on their access to essential benefits, such as pensions, medical leaves, and insurance. The loss of these benefits can create additional stress and financial strain for unfairly dismissed employees.

It is crucial for both employers and employees to be aware of their rights and responsibilities under UK employment law to ensure a fair and just workplace. If an employee feels they have been unfairly dismissed and have lost out on important employee benefits, it is important that they seek out legal advice as soon as possible.

Nicholas Jervis is a solicitor at Samson Consulting