Covid-19 has turned the world on its head. There is no denying that, especially when people are fearing for their jobs due to unfair dismissal. Over the last few weeks, the world has changed from a bustling hive of businesses and social contact to a country filled with empty streets and ambulance sirens.
For any employment lawyer, such as the professional Manchester experts from Gowing Law Solicitors, a regular scenario is for employers to misuse their power to keep employees working in a way that will benefit their business. However, as we are now facing a pandemic, it is essential that businesses do three things:
- Follow government advice for social-distancing and the safety of employees
- Cut costs in order to keep the business running for as long as possible
- Keep the business open to ensure that life can relatively continue on as per usual
Whilst this may sound good in theory, it can be more difficult when it is put into practice. In order to save money, and in some cases to save the business, workers have either been furloughed or unfairly dismissed. That’s why it’s more important than ever for workers to understand their rights, especially if their employers cannot afford to stay open.
If you feel like your livelihood is being threatened due to unemployment, this is the article for you. There is a high chance that you have been unfairly dismissed. Due to this, you may have the opportunity to make an employment dismissal claim against your employer.
Unsafe Work Spaces
It is funny to think that the video displays what was only a “scenario” for the UK a month ago. Now we are all dealing with these plans in normal life. Before the lock down, we all knew the fear a little while ago when we still had to travel on public transport to work. You could visibly see people flinch whenever someone even attempted to cough. However, not all workplaces seem to harbor the same fears.
Whether you feared for your own health, the health of your family or perhaps the health of a vulnerable person, the government encouraged remote working due to how quickly the virus has spread. Employers should now be focused on the health and well-being of their employees.
The UK Government has advised these employer rules to start with:
The Risk of Job Loss
Yes, Covid-19 has caused a bit of chaos within the workplace, but if you keep an eye on government policy, you should be able to deal with it if you are an employer.
However, not all employees are as lucky. Whilst some may have been allowed to bring all of their business home to work whilst practicing social distancing, others simply may have lost their jobs altogether. Take the hospitality industry, for instance.
On the 17th March 2020, the BBC announced that the hospitality industry was at risk of
“thousands of closures”.
If you work in this industry, this is your job on the line. According to research from LinkedIn, although some people have done well due to the virus, around 28% of surveyed people have been forced to use their savings in order to keep their lives stabilized. As well as this, nearly a quarter of furloughed workers have struggled to keep up with their mortgage repayments or have been unable to afford rent payments. This is all thanks to the idea that they have either been furloughed or have been let go from their job.
The Job Retention Scheme
Now, before you think about making an unfair dismissal claim, it’s important to speak to your employer about your rights and how they plan to keep your job safe. Even if you are being forced to work from home, or have been furloughed, your employer may be obliged to still pay your wages if they take part in the Corona Virus Retention Scheme. This scheme is designed to help businesses retain their employees for around 4 months. Check out the video below for more information:
Are you the victim of an “automatic dismissal?”
You’ve probably heard of an unfair dismissal before. To put it bluntly, it is when you are fired from a job for an unfair reason. However, you probably haven’t heard of an automatic unfair dismissal.
How can this help you?
Have a look at the options about what could consist of an automatic unfair dismissal. It is all about the health and safety of the employee, aka. Staying away from the office due to it becoming a dangerous environment. As this is a circumstance of serious danger, you did have the right to refuse work whilst this danger continued. This means that you should have been protected from any unfair dismissals.
You cannot see where the Corona Virus is in your office, therefore it is clear that this should have meant you had a good reason to be protected from losing your job. Your employer may have also ignored the government advice for staying safe from the virus, including social distancing, PPE or deep cleaning the environment. They may have also not allowed you to work remotely if you lived with a high-risk family member that was trying to self-isolate.
All you were doing was trying to keep your family and yourself safe. You should not have been dismissed because of this. Keep in mind that it is not about your employee’s state of mind. Instead, it is about yours and how you choose to react to the pandemic.
Overall, this means that you could be entitled to compensation.
Additional reasons why you may have been unfairly dismissed
Now, we are in a time where the main reason why you may have been dismissed is due to the lock down. But remember this may not be the case for everyone. You may have also been made unemployed due to the fact that you:
- Refused to give up specific working time rights (i.e. breaks).
- Asked for flexible working hours.
- Resigned whilst giving the correct notice period.
- Applied for leave as a vulnerable person (i.e. pregnant, ill or old).
- Became a “whistle blower”, aka. Exposed something wrong in the work place.
- Were forced to retire.
Employment Tribunals & Your Rights
If you have been unfairly dismissed, Gowing Law Solicitors can help you with this. You can get compensation that can support you and your family as you try to get through the pandemic- or at least until you find another job that allows you to work remotely.
The first thing you need to think about is whether you unlawful treatment is just an unfair dismissal, or whether it has also involved discrimination or unfair deductions from your wage. This can add to your case, but remember to stick to the main facts about your dismissal. That is what is going to make the difference between whether or not you have a claim.
To get compensation, you (or Gowing Law’s top Manchester employment solicitors) will go to an employment tribunal. A tribunal will make a decision on whether or not you are entitled to compensation.
Make sure to make your tribunal claim within 3 months of being dismissed from your job.
An important thing to note about unfair dismissals is that they also depend on how long you have spent at your place of work. You need to have worked through your probation period and need to be classified as an employee.
A qualifying period includes:
- After 6th April 2023: Two years
- Before 6th April 2012: 1 Year
Making an Unfair Dismissal Claim
Once you have contacted ACAS about your employment tribunal, you will be given an ACAS early conciliation certificate number. You will then need to gather as many details as possible about your claim, including the background, dates and the people/company involved in the case. Gowing Law Solicitors, the top Manchester lawyers for unfair dismissals, can help you gather this evidence and fill out a claims form.
When your court date comes, you will be expected to bring this evidence with you into the courts. Your Gowing Law Solicitor can come with you to provide support. A judge will then listen to your case, the evidence and any additional examples you may have to prove that you were unfairly dismissed.
The decision will then be either made on the day or it will be sent out to you via the post.
Gowing Law Solicitors can help you get compensation!
Even though we are all working at home remotely to avoid catching Covid-19, Gowing Law Solicitors can still help guide you through your claim. You didn’t deserve to lose your job. In the blink of a month, life has been completely changed. Therefore, you deserve support to help you cope with our new reality.
Gowing Law Solicitors has some of the top employment claims lawyers to ensure that you get a good outcome on your case. You are entitled to compensation and a Gowing Law Solicitor will always have your back.
Have you read our other blogs?
As we are all currently in lock down, there’s no better time than now to learn about the world of law and your rights. Our blog page covers a wide range of topics, including the basics of PPI and miscalculated mortgages! Make sure to check out our main blog page to see if any of our titles interest you.
Keep Home & Keep Safe
It is a scary time for all of us. We fear the worst for ourselves, our friends and our family. Being apart from each other can be difficult in times of hardship. This is a battle within ourselves that we must overcome for the sake of the people we love and want to keep safe. Do your part to stop Covid-19. Keep social distancing and working remotely. It’s the only option we have now!