Dismissal (Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977 to 2001)
The purpose of the Acts is to protect employees from being unfairly dismissed from their jobs by laying down criteria by which dismissals are to be judged unfair and by providing an adjudication system and redress for an employee whose dismissal has been found to be unfair.
The Acts apply to any person:
- Working under a contract of employment or apprenticeship.
- Employed through an employment agency.
The Acts apply to employees who (with certain exceptions) have had at least 1 year continuous service with the same employer. Exceptions are where dismissal results from:
- An Employees Pregnancy
- The exercise of rights under the Maternity Protection Act 1994
- The exercise of rights under the Adoptive Leave Act 1998
- The exercise of rights under the parental Leave Act 1998
- An Employees entitlements under the Minimum Wage Act 2000
- An Employees Trade Union Membership or Activities.
- The exercise of rights under the Carer’s Leave Act 2001.
The Acts do not apply to:
- Persons working for a close relative in a private house or farm provided both parties also live in the same house or farm.
- Employees who have reached normal retiring age or who are not covered by the Redundancy Payments Acts.
- Members of the Defence Forces or Gardai
- Persons on full time training or apprenticeships.
- State Employees other than industrial categories
- Officers of local Authorities and VEC’s
In determining if an employee has the necessary service to qualify, it may be considered that the employment of a person on 2 or more contracts, between which there was no more than 26 weeks of a break, the length of the various contracts may be added together.
In general the Acts provide that every dismissal of an employee will be presumed to be unfair unless the employer can show substantial grounds justifying the dismissal.
To justify a dismissal, an employer must show that it resulted wholly or mainly from one or more of the following causes.
- The capability, competence or qualifications of the employee.
- The employee’s conduct.
- The Redundancy of the employee.
- The fact that continuation of the employment would contravene another statutory requirement.
An employer who has dismissed an employee must, if asked, furnish in writing within 14 days the reason for the dismissal.
It may be construed as Constructive Dismissal if a person’s conditions of work are made so difficult that the employee feels obliged to leave.
Claims must be made within 6 months of the date of dismissal. It may be extended to 12 months in exceptional circumstances.
The Redress for Unfair Dismissal is:
- Re-instatement in the old job, or
- Engagement in a suitable alternative job on conditions which the adjudicating bodies consider reasonable, or
- Financial compensation with a maximum of 2 years pay.
An employee found to have been unfairly dismissed but who has suffered no financial loss may be awarded up to 4 weeks pay.
Employees may seek redress under the Unfair Dismissals Acts, 1977 to 2001 by referring a complaint to either a Rights Commissioner or the Employment Appeals Tribunal.