What is the Unfair Dismissal Law?

Keith Koons

The unfair dismissal law is a set of guidelines that protects an employee from being terminated unfairly. While these protections vary by region, many places throughout the world grant employees certain rights inside the workplace to protect them from harassment, unfair treatment, or being fired without good reason. Unfair dismissal laws are put in place by governments to ensure that employers abide by these standards. In many regions, it is also possible for an unfair dismissal victim to seek compensation through the local court system as well.

The most common causes of unfair dismissal are sexual harassment and discrimination based on gender, age, sexual orientation or race.
The most common causes of unfair dismissal are sexual harassment and discrimination based on gender, age, sexual orientation or race.

Under an unfair dismissal law, an employee who completes his job adequately can usually not be fired without a good reason. This does not mean that the employer cannot lay off productive employees when business is slow, because any reason is adequate under most regional laws. Likewise, if an employee is fighting the company over a rights violation and decides to come to work late in defiance, that would also qualify as a fair dismissal if the employer terminated him. The only time an unfair dismissal law covers an employee is when there is absolutely no reason for termination.

Employees are protected from being terminated unfairly.
Employees are protected from being terminated unfairly.

A large part of the unfair dismissal law is dedicated to defining circumstances that would be considered a violation of an employee's rights, and each government sees these types of disputes a bit differently. Generally speaking, most places have laws that define how many hours an employee can complete per shift or how many consecutive days he can be forced to work. There are also usually stipulations that protect minorities from unfair treatment, as well as laws that apply solely to workers who are under a certain age. Other laws define safety regulations and items that the employer must provide on each employee's behalf.

If an employee wishes to submit a claim under an unfair dismissal law, most regions require that the process begin within the place of employment. After the worker has voiced his concerns, businesses in many regions are required to investigate the claim before any action is taken. During this period, the employee can still be terminated if other rules or regulations are ignored, but generally he is protected from punishment in the area he complained about. In many regions, an employee can resign if he feels he is being harassed, and it would still fall under the unfair dismissal law.

After an employee is terminated, that person usually has legal recourse through a private attorney or a government agency. This normally requires filing some paperwork with the local court system and requesting an investigation. Once the inquiry is completed, if the unfair dismissal law was violated then civil action may be possible.

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