Essential points

  • It is possible to dismiss someone fairly if they are incapable of doing their job properly or prevented by a long-term illness from doing their job, or they are redundant, or they commit ‘gross misconduct,' or for a statutory restriction, or for ‘some other substantial reason.'
  • A dismissal can be unfair if there is no good reason for it, or an organisation fails to follow legal requirements and its dismissal or disciplinary procedure when making it. 
  • A dismissal can be automatically unfair for several reasons, including for making a flexible working request, being pregnant or on maternity leave, being a trade union member, or for ‘blowing the whistle’. 
  • Constructive unfair dismissal occurs when an employee feels they have no choice but to resign and claim compensation because their employer has irretrievably broken their employment contract. 

CIPD member content

This content is only available for CIPD members

Disclaimer 

‚ÄčPlease note: While every care has been taken in compiling this content, CIPD cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. These notes are not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice. 

Employment
law advice

Want more employment law advice? Members can phone the CIPD legal helpline or take out a discounted subscription to HR-inform for additional resources.

Callout Image

Related content on dismissal

Factsheets
Dismissal procedures

Introductory guidance on dismissal in the UK, focusing on unfair dismissal and with advice on following a fair dismissal procedure

Topics
Dismissal

Discover how you can avoid issues when dismissing people, including termination of contract and unfair dismissal.

Guides
People manager guide: Dismissal

Information for managers on what happens when the decision is made to dismiss a member of their team and how to avoid mistakes

For Members
Thought leadership
New statutory code not enough to prevent future P&O Ferries-type sackings

Ben Willmott talks about why UK Government plans for a new code of practice to ensure employers consult with workers when changing employment conditions will fail to stop unfair treatment, as press reports suggest the long-awaited Employment Bill is to be further delayed

Employment law

Access more employment law resources

Employment law
UK employment law changes post-Brexit – the ‘retained EU law bill’ explained

The 'Retained EU law bill', or REUL, changes UK employment law.

For Members
Employment law
Annual leave: UK employment law

The CIPD's dedicated legal resource on holiday entitlement for all types of worker. This page includes guidance on applying the working time directive and how the UK court system sees legal claims against employers on annual leave matters.

For Members
Employment law
Working time: UK employment law

CIPD guidance on the legality of working hours in the UK. Workable hours and breaks are directed by the UK's Working Time Regulations, formally part of the EU Working Time Directive. Here we explore key legislation and how the courts see claims against employers.

For Members