Entitlement to claim unfair dismissal

The following Employment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Entitlement to claim unfair dismissal
  • Eligibility
  • Particular types of employment
  • Diplomatic and State immunity
  • Whether employee works in Great Britain
  • Dismissal in connection with a strike or lock-out
  • Protected industrial action
  • Dismissal whilst taking part in industrial action
  • Dismissal after industrial action has ceased
  • Illegality

Entitlement to claim unfair dismissal

The right not to be unfairly dismissed is a purely statutory right arising under section 94 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA 1996). There are a number of qualifying conditions and exceptions. The burden of proving that the relevant qualifying conditions are met generally falls on the claimant.

An unfair dismissal claim is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the employment tribunal (ie it cannot be brought in the courts) and must generally be made within three months of the effective date of termination (see Practice Note: Effective date of termination). This time limit:

  1. will be extended if the prospective claimant is subject to the requirement for early conciliation (see Practice Note: The early conciliation requirement—Extension to time limits (the ‘stop the clock’ provisions))

  2. may be extended by the tribunal where it was not reasonably practicable to present the claim in time (see Practice Note: Time limits for presenting employment tribunal claims—Extending time because 'not reasonably practicable').


The right not to be unfairly dismissed is only available to employees, defined as individuals who have entered into or work under a contract of employment (ie a contract of service or apprenticeship, whether express or implied and whether oral or in writing)—see Practice Note: Employee status.

Unfair dismissal requires that the employee has been dismissed. The circumstances in which an employee is treated as having

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