What is it like to bring an unfair dismissal claim?
A short summary of what happens when you claim
Deciding whether to claim or not.
The unfair dismissal legislation is open to workers in Ireland who have completed twelve months employment with their employer.
You may be feeling angry at being unfairly dismissed. You may wish to seek justice for the wrong which you have suffered. It is good to seek compensation for an unfair dismissal, but at some stage practical reality has to be considered. How much compensation can I expect to receive? How is compensation for unfair dismissal calculated? How much does it cost to bring an unfair dismissal claim to the Workplace Relations Commission?
Let's deal with each of those questions.
The amount of compensation which you are entitled to receive if you are successful in your unfair dismissal claim is set out in the Unfair Dismissal Act 1977 as "financial loss". This means you will be compensated forthe financial loss which you have sufferef as a result of being unfairly dismissed. It amounts essentially to your loss of wages, for example, if you were out of employment for 6 weeks, you will get the equivalent of six weeks wages. If you have only been able to obtain employment which paid less than your former job, then the compensation , if granted will make up the difference.
The cost of bringing a claim to the Workplace and instructing an experienced expert in employment law can vary, depending on the individual circumstances, however a minimum cost of €2000 can be anticipated. This means that when considering the pros and cons of taking a case to the Workplace Relations Commission for unfair dismissal, you need to anticipate receiving compensation in excess of €2000 to make it economically feasible.
It may be a question of preserving your good name. For example, if you work in a close knit specialist field of work, being sacked for alleged gross misconduct could leave it difficult for you to gain suitable employment. In that case, it is important for you to win your case and show that your employer has in fact dismissed you unfairly.
Preparing the claim
It is important to gather the evidence as soon as possible, in an unfair dismissal claim. Depending on the circumstances of the dismissal, there may be witnesses who can testify as to what was said and by whom. Statements should be obtained from witnesses as soon as possible. Memories can fade or alter as time goes by. keep copies of all written correspondence relating to the dismissal. Were the correct disciplinary procedures followed? Most unfair dismissal cases are lost by the employer because they did not follow the correct procedures when dismissing an employee. There can be a lot to consider when preparing your unfair dismissal claim. Our advice is to talk to an expert. Many cases are lost because an employee brought their own case and missedan important piece of evidence which would have helped them to win their case. In other cases some employees do not claim under enough pieces of employment legislation. Our initial consultation is free. It costs you nothing for that first conversation. We may be able to guide you in the right direction. If you decide to instruct us to act for you , we will outline the cost of our service up front. No hidden surprises. It usually greatly increases your chance of obtaining proper compensation for your unfair dismissal. We will fully prepare you calim and submit it on your behalf.
The adjudication hearing
After we have prepared your claim and submitted it on your behalf, finally the date for the hearing comes around. Most cases are heard in the WRC headquarters at Lansdown House in Dublin or in selected venues throughout Ireland. The parties will enter the room and sit at either side of a conference table, with the adjudicator at the head . The adjudicator will summarise the position of each party to the proceedings and clarify and matters which may need clarification. The claimant begins their case. They may be questioned by the employer's representative. The employer then presents their case. equally the representative of the claimant may ask questions. Both parties sum up their case and the hearing usually adjourns until the adjudicator gives their decision. The adjudicator may give a decision there and then if the result is obvious.
You can bring the claim on your own behalf and try to cut back on expenditure. This may well prove to be a false economy. The employer will be represented by experienced professionals. You probably have no experience of dealing with an adjudication, cross examining witnesses, summing up, etc. It is extremely helpful to have an experienced professional fighting in your corner. Two heads are better than one in these circumstances.
If either party disputres the decision of the adjudication officer, then they can appeal it to the Labour Court. They must do so within 42 days of the decision.
What should I do next?
For more on unfair dismissal see
For more on deciding to claim see
Related article Losing your Job see
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