Dismissing staff

4. Eligibility to claim unfair dismissal

Employees can only claim unfair dismissal if they’ve worked for a qualifying period - unless they’re claiming for an automatically unfair reason.

Date employment started When the employee can claim
Before 6 April 2012 After first year of employment
After 6 April 2012 After 2 years of employment

Who can’t claim unfair dismissal

The right to complain to a tribunal about unfair dismissal isn’t available to:

  • self-employed people
  • independent contractors
  • members of the armed forces
  • employees who have reached a settlement with their employer through Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) or the Labour Relations Agency (LRA) in Northern Ireland
  • employees who have reached a settlement with their employer through a ‘settlement agreement’ or ‘compromise agreement’ after taking legal advice
  • employees employed under an illegal contract, eg a barman under the age of 18
  • employees covered by a dismissal procedure agreement that’s been legally exempted from the unfair dismissal rules
  • employees taking part in unofficial industrial action (unless the dismissal is for an automatically unfair reason)
  • police staff (unless the dismissal relates to health and safety or whistleblowing.
  • those working on a fishing vessel and paid by a share in the profits or gross earnings of the vessel