When can there be an automatic unfair dismissal?

Automatic unfair dismissal

In the vast majority of cases where an automatic unfair dismissal applies, you do not need any minimum qualifying period of service with your employer to bring a claim. These exceptions (where no minimum period is necessary) are as follows:

  • for a health and safety reason;
  • for reasons connected with pregnancy, childbirth, statutory maternity leave, statutory paternity leave, statutory adoption leave, parental leave, shared parental leave, time off for attending antenatal and adoption appointments or time off for dependants
  • for a shop or betting worker for refusing to work on a Sunday;
  • for a reason connected with rights under the Working Time Regulations 1998;
  • for performing functions as an occupational pensions trustee;
  • for performing functions as an employee representative on a TUPE transfer or collective redundancy;
  • for making a protected disclosure (i.e.whistleblowing);
  • for asserting a statutory right;
  • in connection with an application for flexible working;
  • relating to the national minimum wage;
  • for enforcing rights in relation to working tax credit;
  • in connection with a prohibited list under the Employment Relations Act 1999;
  • in connection with time off for study and training request rights;
  • in connection with carrying out jury service;
  • in connection with carrying out the functions of or exercising the rights of an employee representative under the Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004;
  • in connection with European works council(EWC) activities;
  • relating to status as a part-time worker;
  • relating to status as a fixed-term employee;
  • in connection with trade union recognition;
  • for trade unionmembership or non-membership, or participation in trade union activities;
  • in connection with exercising the right to be accompanied to a disciplinary or grievance hearing;
  • for taking part in protected industrial action;
  • in connection with exercising prescribed rights as an agency worker;
  • in connection with pensions auto-enrolment;
  • following selection for redundancy on any of the grounds listed above.


In the following cases, there will still be an automatic unfair dismissal, but you will need the qualifying period of service (23 months and 3 weeks) in which to make a claim:

    • dismissal because of a spent conviction;
    • dismissal where the sole or principal reason for the dismissal is a TUPE transfer itself unless it is an economic, technical or organisational reason (ETO) reason entailing changes in the workforce
    • dismissal by reason of retirement.

Click here to go to the main unfair dismissal page

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