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6. Unfair Dismissal

Guidance note 6 to the EMPLOYMENT (JERSEY) LAW 2003

 This statement is intended to explain to employers and employees the principal requirements of the Law. It is not intended to cover all the requirements of the Law, nor does it represent a statement of the Law.

Unfair Dismissal (part 7 Articles 61 to 78)

An employee has the right not to be unfairly dismissed by their employer. 

1.   A dismissal is defined as when:

a) the employer terminates the contract, with or without notice for a stated reason of dismissal, or 

b) an employee has been employed under a fixed term contract (or a series of such contracts) and the fixed term contract expires without being renewed, or

c) the employee terminates the contract, with or without notice, because of the employer's conduct (commonly called constructive dismissal), or

d) the employer terminates the contract by giving notice and, during that notice period, the employee  then gives notice that expires on an earlier date

Effective date of termination (Article 63)

2.   The effective date of termination is:

a) the date on which the notice expires, whether given by employer or employee.

b) when termination is without notice, the date termination took place.

c) in relation to a fixed term contract which is not renewed under the same contract, the actual date of expiry.

When giving notice, it must be remembered that the statutory notice period may be longer than that set out in the contract of employment. In such situations, the statutory period of notice is the one that must be applied and the effective date of termination will be the date on which the statutory notice period would end.

The effective date of termination is important for the calculation of specific periods referred to within the Law.

Fair dismissal (Article 64)

3. For a dismissal to be fair the employer must show that the principal reason for the dismissal is either:

a) The capability or qualifications of the employee in relation to the kind of work they were employed to do. (Capability is in relation to skill, aptitude, health. Qualifications relate to any degree, diploma or other academic, technical or professional qualifications that are relevant to the position).

b) The conduct of the employee.

c) That the employee was redundant (see later comments in 6 b) and e) on selection for redundancy).

d) That to continue to employ the person would be contravening a duty or restriction imposed by law (e.g. a person employed as a driver who is banned from driving).

e) Some other substantial reason of a kind that would justify the dismissal of the employee and that in the circumstances the employer acted reasonably in treating it as a sufficient reason for dismissal (e.g. the dismissal of a person specifically employed to cover another's maternity leave when the other employee returns to work; a reason associated with significant business reorganisation).

f) retirement - having followed a fair process (see JACS guide to Retirement)

Reasonable or justifiable

4. Even if the employer has grounds to dismiss the employee the Tribunal will consider whether or not the employer's action was reasonable. In so doing, it will consider the size and administrative resources of the employer, any changes in the business before or after the dismissal. The decision taken by the employer must be one that a reasonable employer would have made. What may be fair for one employer may not be fair for another and the reason must have substantial merits.

5. Part 7A of the Employment Law gives employees the right to be represented where their employer requires or requests them to attend a disciplinary or grievance hearing and the employee tells the employer that they wish to be represented at the hearing.

This right only applies to disciplinary hearings where the hearing could result in a formal written warning or some other formal disciplinary action being taken against the employee (or the confirmation of one of the above), including appeal hearings.  Informal disciplinary hearings, such as meetings to investigate an issue, do not attract the right to be represented. If it becomes clear during the course of such a meeting that disciplinary action is necessary, a formal hearing should be arranged where the employee has the right to be represented.

The Employment Law provides that an employee may be represented by one of the following people in formal disciplinary or grievance hearings:

  • A fellow employee who is employed by the same employer,
  • An employed trade union official (who may or may not be an official of a union that is recognised by the employer, but the union must be registered under the Employment Relations (Jersey) Law, 2007).
  • A trade union official who is not employed by a union, but whom the union has reasonably certified in writing as having experience of, or having received training in, acting as an employee's representative at disciplinary or grievance hearings.

Automatically Unfair Dismissal

6. Dismissal in a number of instances will be regarded as automatically unfair. (In certain instances employees who would not normally be able to claim unfair dismissal, because they have too little service with the employer or are beyond retirement age, can in fact make such a claim of automatically unfair dismissal).

Automatically unfair dismissal arises in the following circumstances:

a) Being or proposing to become a member of a trade union, taking part or proposing to take part in the activities of a trade union within their own time or within working time with the consent of the employer, or refusing or proposing to refuse to be or remain a trade union member, or taking part in official industrial action (irrespective of length of service or having reached retirement age).

b) Selection for redundancy on grounds related to union membership or activity (irrespective of length of service or having reached retirement age).

c) Asserting or bringing proceedings against an employer to enforce a statutory right e.g. statement of initial terms of employment (irrespective of length of service or having reached retirement age).

d) Asserting or bringing proceedings against an employer to require the payment of a particular rate of minimum wage (irrespective of length of service or having reached retirement age).

e)   Being selected for redundancy unfairly in that the circumstances of the redundancy applied equally to other employees who have not been made redundant and it can be shown that the employee was selected after asserting a right under the above paragraphs c and/or d

f) Being dismissed for representing (or proposing to represent) another employee, or for asserting the right to be represented in a disciplinary or grievance hearing.

g)  Being dismissed on grounds that constitute an act of discrimination as prohibited in the Discrimination (Jersey) Law 2013.

h)  Being dismissed on the grounds of pregnancy or family reasons.

Redundancy

7. Redundancy is defined as the dismissal of an employee wholly or mainly attributable to  

(a)        the fact that the employer has ceased or intends to cease -

(i)         to carry on the business for the purposes of which the employee was employed, or

(ii)        to carry on that business in the place where the employee was so employed, or

( b)        the fact that the requirements of that business -

(i)         for employees to carry out work of a particular kind, or

(ii)        for employees to carry out work of a particular kind in the place where the employee was employed by the employer, have ceased or diminished or are expected to cease or diminish, permanently or temporarily for whatever reason.

The business of the employer together with the business or businesses of any associated employers shall be treated as one (unless either of the conditions specified in paragraphs (a) and (b) above would be satisfied without so treating them).

Qualifying period and hours of employment

8. Any employee starting work with an employer will have to accrue 52 weeks' continuous service in order to qualify for the right not to be unfairly dismissed.

This does not affect an Employee's right to claim for any of the 'automatic unfair dismissals' which require no specific length of service.

9. A complaint must be brought to the Tribunal within certain time limits or, except in  exceptional circumstances agreed by the Tribunal, it will be rejected as out of time.

These limits are:

a) before the end of the period of 8 weeks beginning on the effective date of termination (see note below).

b) where dismissal is with notice, the complaint may be brought after the notice has been given but before the effective date of termination.

Note: The Tribunal strictly enforces this time limit which, for the avoidance of doubt, starts on the effective date of termination (EDT) and expires at midnight on the day before the eighth (weekly) anniversary of the EDT.

Upper and lower age limits

11. The right to claim unfair dismissal is not available to an employee who, at  the effective date of termination, is still of compulsory school age.

12. Fro 1 September 2018 the upper age limit is removed from the legislation therefore claims can be taken forward by employees over the age of 65 years.

Death of employee or employer (Article 78)

13. Where an employer gives notice to an employee and either the employee or the employer dies before the effective date of termination of employment, then for  the purposes of unfair dismissal the contract is taken as having been terminated by notice expiring on the date of the death.

a) Where either an employee or employer gives contractual notice, but statutory notice would result in a later date of termination (see section 2 above) and either party dies before that date then notice is taken to expire on the date of the death.

b) Where an employee has died, the Tribunal may still award compensation (to their estate).

Remedies

14. The Social Security Minister is able, by Order, to specify a scale of compensation that may be awarded by the Tribunal. Currently, it is in accordance with a scale based on the employee's length of service and salary level. The Tribunal will have the power to reduce the award in certain circumstances where the employee has contributed to their own dismissal and the discretion to consider whether it would be appropriate for an unfairly dismissed employee to be re-employed by their employer (whether reinstatement or re-engagement), and the power to award additional compensation if the employer does not comply with a direction for re-employment.

The Tribunal may also award an additional sum, up to a maximum of £10,000, in compensation for any contractual commitment that the employee was due, but did not receive and may award a sum to compensate for notice that is due, but has not been given.

Scale of compensation for unfair dismissal:

 Less than 6 months service (automatic unfair)           4 weeks' pay

                         6 - 12 months continuous service         4 weeks' pay 

                        12 - 24                        "                       8 week's pay

                        24 - 36                        "                      12 week's pay

                        36 - 48                        "                      16 week's pay

                        48 - 60                        "                      21 week's pay

                        60 + months                 "                     26 week's pay

 

Unfair Dismissal (part 7 Articles 61 to 78)

An employee has the right not to be unfairly dismissed by their employer. 

1.   A dismissal is defined as when:

a) the employer terminates the contract, with or without notice for a stated reason of dismissal, or 

b) an employee has been employed under a fixed term contract (or a series of such contracts) and the fixed term contract expires without being renewed, or

c) the employee terminates the contract, with or without notice, because of the employer's conduct (commonly called constructive dismissal), or

d) the employer terminates the contract by giving notice and, during that notice period, the employee  then gives notice that expires on an earlier date

Effective date of termination (Article 63)

2.   The effective date of termination is:

a) the date on which the notice expires, whether given by employer or employee.

b) when termination is without notice, the date termination took place.

c) in relation to a fixed term contract which is not renewed under the same contract, the actual date of expiry.

When giving notice, it must be remembered that the statutory notice period may be longer than that set out in the contract of employment. In such situations, the statutory period of notice is the one that must be applied and the effective date of termination will be the date on which the statutory notice period would end.

The effective date of termination is important for the calculation of specific periods referred to within the Law.

PLEASE ALSO REFER TO GUIDANCE NOTE 6A   for reduction in award, reinstatement or re-engagement).

Further advice or information and copies of this and other guidance notes may be obtained from the Jersey Advisory and Conciliation Service in person or by telephoning (01534) 730503; email jacs@jacs.org.je ; www.jacs.org.je

JACS April 2017

 

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