Dismissal: your rights

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Reasons you can be dismissed

There are some situations when your employer can dismiss you fairly.

Not being able to do your job properly

You may not be able to do your job properly if, for example, you:

  • have not been able to keep up with important changes to your job - for example, a new computer system
  • cannot get along with your colleagues

Before taking any action, your employer should:

  • follow disciplinary procedures - for example, warn you that your work is not satisfactory
  • give you a chance to improve - for example, by training you


You can be dismissed if you have a persistent or long-term illness that makes it impossible for you to do your job.

Before taking any action, your employer should:

  • look for ways to support you - for example, considering whether the job itself is making you sick and needs changing
  • give you reasonable time to recover from your illness

If you have a disability (which may include long-term illness), your employer has a legal duty to support disability in the workplace.

Dismissal because of a disability may be unlawful discrimination.


Redundancy is a form of dismissal and is fair in most cases.

If the reason you are selected for redundancy is unfair then you will have been unfairly dismissed.

Summary dismissal

You can be dismissed for ‘gross misconduct’ without your employer going through the normal disciplinary procedures. This can happen if, for example, you’re violent towards a colleague, customer or property.

Your employer should always investigate the circumstances before making a dismissal, even in possible gross misconduct cases.

A ‘statutory restriction’

You can be dismissed if continuing to employ you would break the law - for example, if you’re a driver in a lorry firm and you lose your driving licence.

It’s impossible to carry on employing you

If it’s impossible to carry on employing you, it’s likely to be fair. For example, if a factory burns down and it’s no longer possible to employ anyone.

A ‘substantial reason’

You may be dismissed fairly if, for example:

  • you unreasonably refuse to accept a company reorganisation that changes your employment terms
  • you’re sent to prison