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Unfair Dismissals: An Employer’s Guide

As an employer, it’s essential to stay informed on employment law. You should know both how to protect yourself against unfair dismissal claims, and what to do if you are faced with one.

Under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977-2015, if an employee feels that they have been unfairly dismissed, with or without notice, they may seek redress by initiating a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission.

As the employer, it will be your responsibility to provide proof that the dismissal was procedurally fair and occurred for fair reasons, namely one or more of the following:

  • The employee’s ability, competence, and/or qualifications for their role
  • The employee’s conduct
  • Redundancy (however, if an employee was unfairly selected for redundancy they may raise an unfair dismissal claim)
  • Gross misconduct, for example assault or stealing
  • If continuing the employee’s contract would infringe on a statutory requirement
  • Or ‘other substantial grounds for dismissal’


There are several reasons which would be considered automatically unfair grounds for dismissal, including race, age, or sexual orientation. Read part 1 of this blog post for a full list of these reasons.

Following Fair Procedures

Whether the grounds for dismissal are considered fair or not, you must also have followed the principles of natural justice and fair procedures in dismissing the employee. For example, the employee must have been provided with details of the complaints against them, and they must be allowed to respond to same. (Source) Read the WRC’s Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures for a full rundown of your requirements in relation to natural justice and fair procedures.

What Would be Required if The Claim is Approved?

The most common form of redress in the case of an unfair dismissal is monetary compensation. Usually, the maximum compensation the employee can receive is up to two years’ losses of earnings. If the employee was dismissed due to a protected disclosure, they can receive up to five years’ salary. (Source)

The employee may also have their previous role reinstated, either with or without financial compensation for loss of earnings during the period between the dismissal and the hearing. However, these two outcomes are less frequently awarded. (Source)

Have You Been Faced With an Unfair Dismissal Claim?

Our team has the expertise necessary to assist you through every step of the process.

Contact us on 021 496 3400 freephone or email us at maharvey@martinharvey.ie and we would be happy to help.

Unfairly Dismissed? What You Need to Know

If you feel that you’ve been unfairly dismissed, you may be wondering what your rights are, whether you are eligible to submit a complaint, and who to contact.

To help shed some light on a complicated situation, we’ve compiled an overview of what you need to know and do if you think you have been unfairly dismissed.

What are the Criteria for Unfair Dismissal?

The Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977-2015  is the key legislation in Ireland regarding unfair dismissals. According to the acts, your dismissal would be automatically considered unfair if you were dismissed for any of the following reasons:

  • Trade union membership,
  • Religious or political views,
  • Race, sexual orientation, age, or membership of the Travelling community,
  • Pregnancy, giving birth, or breastfeeding,
  • Taking maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave, parent’s leave, adoptive leave, force majeure leave, or carer’s leave,
  • Unfair selection for redundancy,
  • Your disclosure of ‘wrongdoing at work’ under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014,


  • Acting as a party or witness for legal proceedings against your employer.


A dismissal may also be considered unfair if an employee has been dismissed without substantial reason or if natural justice and fair procedures have not been applied and followed regarding the dismissal. 

What are My Rights if I’ve Been Unfairly Dismissed?

The unfair dismissals legislation will not prevent your dismissal. Rather, it gives you the right to make a complaint once it has happened. (Source)

Once you’ve issued a complaint, the burden of proof lies with your employer, and they must prove that your dismissal was fair. 

What Should I Do if I Think I’ve Been Dismissed Unfairly? 

Contact a solicitor, who can provide you with legal advice and represent you at case hearings.

To raise your complaint, a Workplace Relations Complaint Form needs to be submitted to the Workplace Relations Commission as a first step.

How do I Know if I’m Eligible to Submit a Complaint?

Be aware that there are certain eligibility criteria in order to proceed with an unfair dismissal complaint against your employer:

  • You must lodge the complaint with the Workplace Relations Commission within 6 months of the date of termination of employment. 

There are also several reasons why the unfair dismissals act may not apply to you, including being a member of the Defence Forces or the Gardaì.

Do You Think You Have Been Unfairly Dismissed?

The subject of unfair dismissals is complex. You want to be guaranteed that your rights are being upheld and that you receive adequate redress. 

At Martin A. Harvey & Co. Solicitors, our experienced team can provide you with advice and guide you through the entire process.

Contact us on (021) 496 3400 freephone or email us at maharvey@martinharvey.ie and we would be happy to help.

COVID-19 – Where do employees stand?

In light of the unprecedented situation facing us at the moment, many employees have unfortunately found themselves self-isolating, on sick leave, laid off or on reduced hours. If you find yourself in this situation, you should be aware of your employee rights and the supports available to you.

Temporary Layoff

A layoff occurs when an employer is temporarily unable to provide an employee with work.

Many contracts of employment specifically provide for such a situation and state that such layoffs will be unpaid. In the event that there is no contractual provision, employers may be able to rely on an implied right based on custom and practice in the organisation, industry or even trade.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment provides support for the self-employed or employees who are laid off temporarily without pay due to the COVID- 19 pandemic for a 12-week period. You should apply for the new social welfare payment payments via MyWelfare.ie.

Alternatively, Employers can avail of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme which has replaced the Employer COVID-19 Refund Scheme. The scheme allows an employer to keep you on payroll and provides a refund to eligible employers of up to 70% of an employee’s wage up to a maximum of €410 per week. You should discuss the possibility of the application of this scheme directly with your employer.

Short Time

If you were placed on short-time working (i.e. reduced hours) as a result of COVID-19, you may apply for Short Time Work Support Payment. The entitlement to this payment is based on your PRSI record and the number of days you are not working. To qualify, you must have been previously working full-time and now working 3 days or fewer per week.


Ordinarily, if layoff or short time continues for 4 weeks or more or for 6 weeks in a period of 13 weeks, an employee may serve written notice of intention to claim redundancy on his/her employer. During the COVID-19 emergency period, which is set as 13 March – 31 May 2020 but could be extended, you will not be able to claim redundancy from your employer if you were laid off or put on short-time work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Self-Isolation/Diagnosis of COVID-19

If you have been directed to self-isolate or have been diagnosed with COVID-19 by a doctor, you may apply for an Enhanced Illness Benefit Payment of €350 per week for up to two weeks. You must be confined to your home or a medical facility in order to be eligible.

Your doctor must provide a medical certificate regarding the self-isolation or diagnosis to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to commence the application process. Then you will need to complete an Illness Benefit Application Form (IB1).

An employee’s right to sick pay from their employer depends on their individual contract of employment. Employers are not legally obliged to pay employees during sick leave unless it is a term (expressed or implied, depending on the circumstances) of the employee’s contract.

How do I access the various payments/benefits?

Where possible, apply online or by post for the various payments and benefits. Calling into the Intreo offices should be avoided for social distancing reasons as they are expected to be busy.

Useful External Links/Contacts

The application form for COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment
Applications for Jobseekers Payments can be made on www.mywelfare.ie
Enhanced Illness Benefit Payment application forms are available by contacting 1890 800 024 or by requesting a friend or family member to collect one from your GP surgery/local Intreo Office.
An Income Support Helpline for COVID-19 can be reached at 1890 800 024/ 01 248 1398

Employees and employers should monitor the situation and the Government and Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection’s updates regularly as further information may become available and measures may change.

For further information, please contact the team at Martin A. Harvey & Co. Solicitors on 021 496 3400, email us at maharvey@martinharvey.ie or contact us via our website.

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