The Act provides a right of complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission where an employee believes that they have been unfairly dismissed
The redress for unfair dismissal is:
- re-instatement in your job
- re-engagement in your job or in a suitable alternative job on conditions which the adjudicating bodies consider reasonable
- where financial loss has occurred, financial compensation
(not exceeding 104 weeks’ pay or, in the case of protected disclosure dismissals, 260 weeks’ pay)
- where no financial loss has occurred, financial compensation of up to 4 weeks’ pay
Dismissals are unfair under the Acts where it is shown that they have resulted wholly or mainly from one or more of the following:
- the employee’s trade union membership or activities, either outside working hours or at those times during working hours when permitted by the employer
- the religious or political opinions of the employee
- the employee having made a protected disclosure
- civil or criminal proceedings against the employer in which the employee is, or is likely to be, involved (as party, complainant or witness)
- the exercise or proposed exercise by the employee of the right to parental leave or force majeure leave under the Parental Leave Act 1998 or carer’s leave under and in accordance with the Carer’s Leave Act 2001
- the race or colour or sexual orientation of the employee
- the age of the employee
- the employee’s membership of the travelling community
- the employee’s pregnancy, attendance at ante-natal classes giving birth or breastfeeding or any matters connected therewith
- the exercise or proposed exercise by the employee of the right under the Maternity Protection Acts 1994 and 2004 to any form of protective leave or natal care absence or to time off from work to attend ante-natal classes or to time off from work or a reduction of working hours for breast feeding in accordance
- the exercise or proposed exercise by an employee of the right to adoptive leave, additional adoptive leave or time off to attend certain pre-adoption classes or meetings under the Adoptive Leave Acts 1995 and 2005
- the unfair selection of the employee for redundancy
- the employee’s exercising of rights or proposed exercise of rights under the National Minimum Wage Act 2000 or under the safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005
An employer who has dismissed an employee must, if asked, furnish in writing within 14 days the reason for the dismissal.
Fixed-term workers have the protection of the Unfair Dismissals Acts. However, the Acts do not cover fixed-term workers whose employment terminates when the contract expires or the purpose ceases, provided the contract is signed by both parties and specifies that the Unfair Dismissals Acts do not apply to the expiry only of the contract.
Agency workers have the protection of the Unfair Dismissals Acts. The person hiring the agency worker (i.e. the end user) is deemed to be the agency workers employer for the purposes of the Acts.
A dismissal may be deemed fair if the principal reason for the dismissal is gross misconduct, lack of competence, capability or by reason of redundancy. The employer has to prove also that he/she acted reasonably in coming to the decision to dismiss and that fair investigative and disciplinary methods were used.
An employee has the protection of the Unfair Dismissals Acts if he/she has at least one year’s continuous service in employment. If the dismissal is for trade union activity, pregnancy or for taking a claim under other designated pieces of employment legislation, then there is protection from day one of employment.