Remedies for unfair dismissal: Employers’ Perspective

By Joanne Hue, published: 2023-03-09

unfair dismissal
Image by studio4rt on Freepik

Businesses have constantly flowing and shuffling human resources, meaning people are fluidly moving in and out of companies. At times, this is voluntary by employees; but unfortunately, there are times when companies have to disassociate from employees for varying reasons. Not all employees take such moves well. It can be hurtful and shocking for employees at times which can lead them to file claims of unfair dismissal. While you could be well right in justifying the dismissal, employees are still protected by employment laws and hence able to claim unfair dismissals. However, this is both preventable as well as resolvable, read on:

What is unfair dismissal?

Generally, most employment laws will define a case of wrongful dismissal to be one where an employee has been dismissed in breach of the agreed-upon contract by an employer. So, if an employer has dismissed an employee by breaching some term in the contract it will be considered a case of unfair dismissal. 

What is taken into consideration while discussing an unfair dismissal claim?

While looking into a claim, some things that are taken into consideration to evaluate if it, unjust or unreasonable are

  1. Validity of the reasoning for the dismissal.
  2. Prior information and notification of the dismissal.
  3. A chance or opportunity for clarification and reasoning.

While these are just a few main topics that will be discussed, there could be more investigations for cases when required.

How can you avoid unfair dismissal claims?

The most effective way to avoid a dismissal claim is to prevent it altogether. Here are 3 steps you can take to avoid claims of unfair dismissal.

  • Effective employment agreements: Having a well-drafted employment agreement is most useful in cases like this. The contract you sign with your employee needs to be detailed and comprehensive. It should mention all responsibilities and obligations that the employee has along with their rights. All expectations including details of their performance should be clarified. The agreement should communicate the company policies and procedures well. If done right, this can be your strongest proof when an unfair dismissal claim is made. 
  • Trained HR team: Your HR team needs to be aware of all external and internal HR policies. They need to be professionals who handle dismissals with care. It is truly a sensitive affair and there needs to be a proper dismissal procedure in place. A well-trained HR professional will help to ensure that all contractual obligations are clear before moving ahead with a dismissal.
  • Legal and fair reasons for dismissals: There can be different reasons as to why the dismissal took place. However, legally, they have to fall within certain criteria and reasonings for unfair dismissal. This can be conduct/misconduct; performance in their role or even some other substantial reasons.
  • Formal dismissals in writing: always go through your onboarding and dismissal processes in writing. It acts as proof that you went through the process as required and helps to communicate in an unbiased and clear manner.

An unfair dismissal claim has been filed. How do you move ahead with this?

When an employee has filed for unfair dismissal, you as an employer will have to begin a formal and proper process of investigation for this. A tribunal could be involved to determine if it was truly a case of unfair dismissal.

As an employer, always know your rights and be well aware of all provisions of the claimant’s employment contract. Dismissal claims also stand ungrounded in certain cases or circumstances; for example, some companies have an agreed-upon contract that short-service employees cannot claim unfair dismissals. Further, as an employer, you will be required to show that you have taken into consideration all relevant circumstances such as disciplinary records, performance review records, and any other extenuating circumstances. Be well prepared with these.

If proven, what are the remedies for unfair dismissal?

If it is an unfair dismissal, you will have to provide remedies to the employee. There are mostly three remedies for this, reinstatement, re-employment, and compensation. At times, remedies could simply involve formal apologies as well.

You can be liable to pay damages to your employee and required to put them back in the position and reinstate them. Further, you could even be required to pay damages and make financial compensations. If being re-employed or reinstated, this amount will reflect the net value of wages and other contractual benefits the employee would have been entitled to if they were still employed. 

You will most likely have an agitated employee on your radar at this point, so the best course of action is to calm them and move ahead with an agreement. Negotiate what works for both of you before coming to an agreement.


Unfair dismissal claims will always be troublesome for a company. It will require you to spend resources and time that could be used elsewhere. Hence, always ensure that your company has fair labor practices and solid employment agreements with all employees. Try to avoid situations that give room for such claims to be made. However, if unavoidable, work on effective resolutions and remedies.

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