This post lays out how you should try and prepare an unfair dismissal claim if you think that you’ve been unfairly dismissed from your job. It suggests that you take the following steps:
- Appeal against your dismissal
- Diarise the limitation date in your claim
- Write down what’s happened to you
- Research the law and list what you think are the elements of unfairness in your dismissal
- Gather all the documents you think are relevant
- Speak to potential witnesses
- Download and complete your ET1 claim form
- See if you can get no win no fee representation from a specialist employment lawyer
- Submit your claim before the limitation date
1. Appeal against your dismissal
If you’ve been dismissed and have been informed that you can appeal your dismissal then this should be your first step, even if you’re sure that appealing won’t get your job back. This is extremely important – a failure to appeal against your dismissal can mean that your compensation is significantly reduced if you win your claim. You should submit your appeal before the deadline set by your employer and list the grounds that you’re appealing on.
You can use this dismissal appeal letter as a template, if you wish.
You may also wish to submit a grievance using this grievance letter template.
2. Diarise the limitation date in your claim
Again, this is extremely important. If you fail to submit your claim before the “limitation date” then it’s probable that you’ll be prevented for claiming for unfair dismissal (unless you have exceptional grounds for not submitting your claim within the necessary time frame). The limitation date is three months less one day from the date of the termination of your employment. This means that if you’re dismissed on 2 November 2012, your limitation date is 1 February 2013. Diarise the date somewhere so that you’ll see it and be reminded of it – your diary or your Google Calendar, for example – and submit your claim significantly prior to this if you can so that you avoid any problems.
3. Write down what’s happened to you
You should do this as soon as you start experiencing problems at work. Detail what happened on particular dates so that when you come to draft your ET1 claim form (we’ll come to that later in this post) and your witness statement you’re fully prepared. Memories can lapse quickly so don’t leave this too long.
4. Research the law and list what you think are the elements of unfairness in your dismissal
Get a copy of Tamara Lewis’ Employment Law Adviser’s Handbook out of the library and read the sections on unfair dismissal. Make some notes and ensure that you fully understand the basics of the law. You may come unstuck if you submit an inadequately planned claim form – this could lead to the dismissal of your claim and even costs against you. So do yourself a favour and read up on the law.
Once you’ve done your reading then make a list of all the issues that you think were unfair in your dismissal. Use the statement that you prepared that details what’s happened to you.
5. Gather all the documents you think are relevant
This is often the most time-consuming element of preparation. When making a claim for unfair dismissal you’ll have to produce evidence that shows that you were unfairly dismissed. This can either be documentary evidence or witness evidence. We’ll deal with witness evidence below. Documentary evidence is anything that can be recorded – so anything from voicemails to meeting transcripts to letters to databases. Have a think about what might be relevant and whether you possess it. Once you’ve made a list of relevant evidence that you possess, the task is to find it. Compile everything in a folder and create a list of contents. This is all good preparation for letter (but not absolutely necessary before you submit your claim).
6. Speak to potential witnesses
Speak to ex-colleagues at your former employer and third parties that have witnessed particular incidents. If you think that they might have useful information relating to your claim then ask them if they’d be willing to supply a statement on your behalf. If you’re lucky and they say yes then take down their statement and file it with your other papers. A problem here is that many ex-colleagues are still working for your employer may not be willing to risk their position at work so you must be prepared for them to say no.
7. Download and complete your ET1 claim form
Your “ET1” is the claim form that you submit to the Employment Tribunal to start an unfair dismissal claim. You can download an ET1 template here. Fill out the ET1 online or print it out. Submit it by email to the relevant Employment Tribunal before the limitation date (as above).
8. See if you can get no win no fee representation from a specialist employment lawyer
This can be useful for 2 reasons:
- You may be able to get a free consultation on your case, which can be useful to clarify the issues and educate you on the law
- The specialist employment lawyer may be willing to take your case on a no win no fee basis
Try and get advice from a specialist unfair dismissal solicitor.
9. Submit your claim before the limitation date
Again, this is extremely important, as above. Fill out your ET1 and submit your unfair dismissal claim by email to the relevant Employment Tribunal before the limitation date. It’s useful (but not essential) to submit your ET1 form by email as it provides an exact date and time on which your claim was submitted. If you send it by post then you run the risk that Royal Mail loses your claim form.