Joanne Bennett (Student)
In March this year, P&O Ferries sacked more than 800 workers without notice. By making staff ‘redundant’ without notice or consultation, P&O Ferries broke British employment laws. The Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 states that employers making 100 or more staff redundant must give the Redundancy Payments Service 45 days notice.
After this widely reported event that caused public outcry, P&O Ferries offered all dismissed staff a redundancy settlement. However, one employee, Mr Lansdown, declined their offer and decided to pursue legal action and bring a claim for unfair dismissal.
In September, the dispute was finally brought to an end, and Mr Lansdown won his case. In an out-of-court settlement, P&O ferries admitted that no consultation took place and accepted that they had dismissed him unfairly.
Dismissals can be unfair when the employer does not have a fair reason for dismissing the employee or when the employer does not follow the correct process when dismissing the employee. It is governed by the Employment Rights Act 1996. Unfair dismissal claims must be brought within 3 months from the employee’s dismissal date.
To bring an unfair dismissal claim:
- They must have been an employee
- They must have been in continuous employment with the employer for at least 2 years
- They must have been dismissed
Things to consider when deciding whether a dismissal was unfair:
- Was the dismissal for a potentially fair reason?
- Was the dismissal fair in all the circumstances?
- Was the procedure by which they were dismissed fair?
When you begin the process, you will need to inform ACAS (a government-funded body that helps with workplace disputes) that you want to make a tribunal claim. This will begin a conciliation process where you and the employer will be encouraged to come to a settlement agreement. You must undergo this process before you can apply to the employment tribunal.
If you do go to an employment tribunal, remedies for unfair dismissal include:
- Re-instatement (You get your job back under all the same terms)
- Re-engagement (you can go back to work but under new terms)
- Compensation (a monetary award to compensate for financial losses – this is the most common remedy)
Here at SULAC, we offer free legal advice on all employment matters, including unfair and constructive dismissal. If you would like an appointment, please call 01782 294458 or email SULAC@staffs.ac.uk