What is an automatically unfair dismissal?

Automatically unfair dismissals include dismissals connected with:

  • membership of, or activities connected to, an independent trade union;
  • taking legitimate steps to ensure the observance of workplace health and safety requirements;
  • carrying out the functions of an elected employee representative or candidate for election or taking part in an election for reps;
  • carrying out the functions of an occupational pension scheme trustee;
  • a reason relating to jury service;
  • disclosures of wrongdoing under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (whistleblowing);
  • pregnancy or childbirth;
  • asserting any statutory right, for example:
    • trying to take advantage of statutory family or other care-related entitlements, such as asking to take paternity leave;
    • asking to work flexibly or part-time; or
    • exercising the right to be accompanied or acting as a companion;
  • refusing to work on a Sunday if working in retail or betting (unless part of your existing contract);
  • seeking entitlements under the National Minimum Wage Act 1998;
  • a reason relating to information on a blacklist; or
  • a reason relating to pensions auto-enrolment.

For most automatically unfair dismissals, no service is needed. There is an exception for automatically unfair dismissals because of a TUPE transfer or because of a spent conviction. In both these cases, two years’ service is required.

An employer cannot justify or defend a dismissal which is automatically unfair.