Unfair Dismissal Ireland Guide in 2024

Many people who have been dismissed by their employer it is their first time in such a circumstance and it can come as quite a shock. It can be tough. Many thoughts and questions run through the mind. The person may not know what the law is regarding Unfair Dismissal in Ireland but they will have a feeling something about the circumstances leading to the dismissal is amiss. They will feel there is an unfairness to the decision made or process followed by the employer and an injustice has occurred.  

Employees should know there are strong legal protections In Ireland for employees under the Unfair Dismissal Acts and indeed under Employment Law generally which is vast in Ireland. Employees have a constitutional right to natural justice and fair procedures which includes a right to be heard and at the least to be able to put their side across to the employer.

We can advise you of your legal case options that may be available to you or simply provide you with a legal opinion once we hear the facts and apply the law to the evidence. We understand the situation can be stressful, therefore you provide the problem to us and we will provide our opinion to you of the appropriate solution option, and you will then be able to make an informed decision of the path forward. There is content on our website which should give you some helpful information on Unfair Dismissal law in Ireland and if you wish to contact us our telephone numbers can be found on our website.

Cleary & Co. employment solicitors have many years of experience acting for employees prosecuting cases and also employers in defending unfair dismissal cases.

Reasons For Unfair Dismissal

Employment dismissal is considered to be automatically unfair if the employee is dismissed for any of the following reasons
  • Membership or proposed membership of a trade union or engaging in trade union activities, whether within permitted times during work or outside of working hours.
  • Religious or political opinions.
  • Legal proceedings against an employer where an employee is a party or a witness.
  • Race, colour, sexual orientation, age or membership of the Traveller community.
  • Pregnancy, giving birth or breastfeeding or any matters connected with pregnancy or birth.
  • Availing of rights under legislation to maternity leave, adoptive leave, carer’s leave, parental or force majeure leave
  • Unfair selection for redundancy.

When does an Unfair Dismissal arise ?

An Unfair Dismissal may arise in the following situations:

  1. An employer terminates an employee’s employment, with or without notice, and without substantial reasons for the dismissal;
  2. An employee terminates their employment, with or without notice, due to the conduct of the employer (Constructive Dismissal).
Who is Eligible to make an Unfair Dismissal claim ?

An employee who has or is:

  1. At least 1 years service(an exception to this rule includes dismissals in contravention of the Employment Equality Acts and unfair dismissal due to trade union activity, pregnancy or availing of rights in relation to maternity, parental leave, wages or carers legislation).
    2. Employed under a contract of service(as opposed to a contract for service).
    3. A Dismissal occurred i.e. employment terminated (an exception to this rule is constructive dismissal where the employee resigns).

If an employer disputes the fact that a dismissal took place, it is the responsibility of the employee to prove that it did occur. Subsequent to proving the dismissal, the claim proceeds to the next stage of deciding if the dismissal was fair or unfair.

At this stage the onus is on the employer to prove it was fair, except in the case of constructive dismissal where the onus is on the employee to show that the conditions of employment were such that they had no option but to leave.

Time Limit Unfair Dismissals Legal Action – Unfair Dismissal Solicitors

The time limit for beginning a claim for unfair dismissal is 6 months from the date of the dismissal. If there are exceptional circumstances, you may be allowed to extend this period up to 12 months from the date of dismissal. However, these must be exceptional circumstances – saying you did not know the law will not suffice.

The date of dismissal, under the unfair dismissals legislation, is the date on which the notice you were given expires. You are entitled to a statutory minimum period of notice, if you have worked at least 13 weeks for your employer. Your written contract of employment may provide for a longer period of notice.

Employees Service

Normally you must have at least 12 months continuous service with your employer in order to bring a claim for unfair dismissal. However there are important exceptions to this general rule. If you have less than 12 months continuous service, you may bring a claim for unfair dismissal, if you are dismissed for:

  • Trade union membership or activity.
  • Pregnancy, giving birth or breastfeeding or any matters connected with pregnancy or birth.
  • Availing of rights granted by the Maternity Protection Acts 1994 and 2004, the Adoptive Leave Acts 1995 and 2005, the National Minimum Wage Act 2000, the Parental Leave Acts 1998 and 2006 and the Carer’s Leave Act 2001.

Reasons for Unfair Dismissal – Equality Law Legislation

Employment equality legislation prohibits dismissal based on any of the following 9 grounds for discrimination: gender, civil status, family status, age, disability, religious belief, race, sexual orientation or membership of the Traveller community.

If one is dismissed by reason of one of the above-mentioned grounds, the person may have a cause of action under the Equality Acts legislation.

Employment Status

You must be an employee, working under a contract of service.

In the case of agency employees, for the purpose of redress under the Acts, the employer is the person or organization for whom the employee is actually working.

The fact of Dismissal

You must have been dismissed in order to bring a claim.

If your employer disputes that a dismissal actually took place, you will have to establish that it did. Only then will your claim continue to the next stage of deciding whether the dismissal was fair, which is a matter for your employer to prove.

Unfair Dismissal Remedies

If you are successful in your claim for unfair dismissal, the body that heard your claim may award you one of the following remedies:


This means that you are treated as if you had never been dismissed. Not only are you entitled to loss of earnings from the date of the dismissal to the date of the hearing, you are also entitled to any favourable changes in the terms of employment during that period, and for example, pay rises.


This means that you will be given your job back but only from a particular date, for example, the date of the decision in your favour. This means that you will not be entitled to compensation for any loss of earnings.


Maximum compensation one can obtain is 104 weeks remuneration or 2 years of their salary.

It is essential to note that compensation is only awarded in respect of financial loss. You cannot therefore claim any compensation for such matters as injury to your feelings or stress caused by the dismissal. Compensation will take the following matters into account:

  • Present loss – a calculation of your loss of earnings from the date of the dismissal to the hearing of your claim. You are obliged to lessen your losses during the period from your dismissal to the hearing by being available for and seeking alternative employment. If it transpires that you have no actual loss, because, for example, you took up other employment immediately after your dismissal, you are entitled to   compensation of 4 weeks pay.
  • Future loss – a calculation will be made as to your future loss, based on a consideration of how long it is likely to be before you can get alternative work.
  • Pension Loss.
  • Contributory conduct – a calculation that will take into account any conduct by you that contributed to the dismissal, even though it was an unfair dismissal. The degree of contribution will be stated in percentage terms and your award overall award reduced accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I make a complaint ? 

If you wish to make a claim for unfair dismissal you must do so within 6 months of the date of dismissal. This time limit may be extended to 12 months in cases where exceptional circumstances have prevented the lodgement of the claim within 6 months. You must complete the Workplace Relations Complaint form and submit same to the Workplace Relations Commission.

Where do I make a compliant ? 

The complaint is make to the Workplace Relations Commission at O’Brien Road, Carlow, R93 E920. 

Unfair Dismissal Definition ? 

Unfair dismissal arises when the dismissal is not conducted lawfully.

What constitutes gross misconduct Ireland ?

We answer this in this post.

What are examples of gross misconduct ?

See this post for guidance.

Do you always get sacked for gross misconduct ?

This is dependant on the individual employer. If the employer is aggrieved at conduct of the the employee, the employee still has a right to a fair investigation of the matter to put in his / her defence with any relevant witnesses etc.

Does a disciplinary mean dismissal ?

No, dismissal is the last and ultimate sanction an employer can choose. There are various other less severe sanctions available to the employer and the employer must be proportionate in the sanction chosen.

Can you appeal a decision for gross misconduct ?

It is important to assess if the proper procedures were followed prior to the decision to dismiss. Was an investigation carried out ? for example. Was the person allowed to prepare for the investigation, to defend themselves, have a witness as to fact etc. and if a decision was made after a disciplinary hearing to dismiss, was there a right of appeal afforded to the person, for example.

How to you prove gross misconduct ?

If there is cctv or witnesses as to the fact, witness statements may be sought and availed of. What is the evidence of each party relevant to the facts will likely be assessed.

What do you get for unfair dismissal ?

There are 3 different forms of redress for unfair dismissal :

  • Re-instatement;
  • Re-engagment;
  • Compensation for loss to date, future loss, pension loss up to a maximum of 104 weeks remuneration.

What is the Unfair Dismissals Act

The primary Act is the 1977 Act, but it has been amended many times thereafter.

Here is the revised edition to November 2019.

How much compensation do you get for unfair dismissal in Ireland ?

Compensation for loss to date, future loss, pension loss up to a maximum of 104 weeks remuneration.

How to you prove unfair dismissal ?

The burden of proof in unfair dismissal cases is on the employer to disprove it, if it has been established the person is an employee, was dismissed, and has the requisite service period completed.

Do I have grounds for Unfair Dismissal ? 

This is answered above.

Can an employer dismiss you without warning ?

There is strong employment law legal protection in Ireland, and it would be imprudent and contrary to fair procedures should this arise.

How do you challenge an unfair redundancy ? 

Depending on the particular facts, it may be possible to file both a redundancy claim and unfair dismissal claim at the same time with the Workplace Relations Commission. There are a set number of reasons for a valid redundancy, and if redundancy is used a vehicle to remove an employee in disingenuous circumstances, the employee may have a claim that the dismissal was conducted unlawfully and falls under the provisions of the unfair dismissals legislation.

What can you do if you were fired unfairly ?

You may have a right to legal recourse in terms of activating a legal action under the Unfair Dismissals Acts, or other legislation.

When was Unfair Dismissal introduced ? 

The primary act is the 1977 Act which has been amended many times since that year.

How do I claim for Unfair Dismissal in Ireland ?

An application needs to be made to the Workplace Relations Commission and the application form can be seen here. There are strict legal timeframes to submit this claim discussed in this post.

What is unfair dismissal?

Unfair dismissal refers to the termination of an employee’s contract by the employer in a manner that is unjust, unreasonable, or without proper cause.

What are the procedures for dismissing an employee fairly in Ireland?

Employers must adhere to fair procedures when dismissing an employee. The employee should be provided with a written notice of termination, offering the opportunity of a decision appeal, and permitting the employee to he heard in the matter.

Can an employee claim unfair dismissal if they are made redundant?

Yes, an employee can claim unfair dismissal if they believe their redundancy was not genuine or if the employer did not follow proper redundancy procedures.

What remedies are available to employees who have been unfairly dismissed?

Remedies for unfair dismissal in Ireland may include reinstatement, re-engagement, or compensation, depending on the circumstances of the case.

What is the time limit for bringing a claim of unfair dismissal?

In general, an employee must bring a claim of unfair dismissal to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) within six months of the date of dismissal.

Can an employer dismiss an employee during a probationary period ?


Can an employee resign and still claim unfair dismissal?

In certain circumstances, an employee may be able to claim constructive dismissal if they resign due to the employer’s breach of contract or unreasonable behaviour.

Disclaimer – Unfair Dismissal Solicitors Article

Please be advised that the above-mentioned material is intended as an overview and as a broad out-line of the topic discussed. It should not be considered as complete and comprehensive legal advice, nor act as an appropriate substitute.

Due care has been taken in the publication of this article and we do not accept legal liability as a result of reliance on any material covered in the above article.

In contentious business, a Solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement. 

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