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Employment tribunals - have you been dismissed for a reason which is automatically unfair?

This advice applies to Wales

When a tribunal looks at your claim for dismissal, there are certain legal tests that they will apply. Generally, if you started working for your employer on or after 6 April 2012, then you can't claim unfair dismissal unless you have worked for them for at least two years. If you started working for them before then, you can't claim unfair dismissal unless you have worked for them for at least one year.

However, there are certain reasons which a tribunal will decide are automatically unfair where you can still claim no matter how long you have worked for your employer.

If you have been discriminated against, you can make a claim for discrimination no matter how long you have worked for your employer.

This page tells you more about which dismissals are automatically unfair and so you do not have to have worked for your employer for any particular length of time.

What are the reasons for dismissal which are automatically unfair?

The most common reasons for dismissal which are automatically unfair, where you do not have to have worked for your employer for a particular length of time before being able to make a claim, are:

  • pregnancy. If you are dismissed because you are pregnant or on maternity leave or a related reason
  • health and safety. if you are dismissed for taking action over a health and safety issue at work or because you have reported a danger to health and safety at your workplace
  • whistleblowing. If you have been dismissed because you have ‘blown the whistle’ on a matter of public concern at work
  • trying to assert a statutory employment right. If you have tried to enforce one of your legal rights, such as trying to enforce your right to paid holiday, and you are dismissed as a result.

If you have been dismissed because your employer's business has transferred to a new owner

If you have been dismissed because the business you work for has been taken over by a new owner, your dismissal will be automatically unfair. This is known as a transfer of undertakings.

However, you have to have worked for your employer for at least a year if you started working for your employer before 6 April 2012 or for at least two years if you started on or after 6 April 2012, to be able to make a claim.

It is quite common for employees to be dismissed unfairly when a business is taken over so if you're dismissed because the business you work for has been taken over, you should get expert advice urgently, such as at a Citizen's Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by e-mail, click on nearest CAB.

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