Sacking Employees for Asserting Their Statutory Rights is Always Unfair


Workers who exercise their entitlement to take a firm stand on their statutory rights may sadly be viewed askance by some employers. However, as an Employment Tribunal (ET) ruling made plain, dismissing them for doing so is, as a matter of law, automatically unfair.

The case concerned an early-years practitioner who worked for a company that ran a pre-school. Various issues had arisen between her and a director of the company in respect of the calculation of her pay, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. She was ultimately summarily dismissed on the stated ground that she had committed repudiatory breaches of her employment contract.

After she launched proceedings, the ET noted that it was fair to say that allegations had been made on both sides and that the language of their correspondence had become increasingly forceful and emotive. The director did not appreciate being subject to challenge in respect of his calculations and viewed her pursuit of her rights in respect of her pay as insubordination.

Whilst expressing sympathy for the owner of a small business having to navigate the complexities of employment law, particularly during the pandemic, the ET found that the principal reason for her dismissal was her assertion of her statutory rights in relation to her wages. Her dismissal was thus automatically unfair within the meaning of Section 104 of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

In also upholding her wrongful dismissal claim, the ET found that the company had breached her contract by failing to pay her four weeks’ wages in lieu of notice. Unauthorised deductions had been made from her pay and pension contributions had been made at rates below her contractual entitlement. If not agreed, the amount of her compensation would be assessed at a further hearing.

Share this article