Employers have a number of obligations under employment law in relation to the dismissal of employees. Unsurprisingly, these are often breached. If you are dismissed from your employment and fair procedures have not been followed, you may bring a claim for unfair dismissal against your employer. When doing so, there are a number of simple steps you can take to help you win your unfair dismissal case.
1. Record absolutely EVERYTHING
It’s important that you keep detailed records of everything in relation to your employment and dismissal. Not only will this help your solicitor in preparing your case, but it will also act as a reminder to you of the important facts that arose when the case is coming on for hearing. Even if you don’t think it’s a relevant piece of information, you should record anyway as your solicitor may deem it to be relevant. Such information might include:
a) Your contract of employment, staff handbook(s), and any other documents that you received when you began your employment.
b) Any letters or notes that you received during your employment – especially those relating to your dismissal or conduct during your employment.
c) Written records of any meetings you attended (whether formal or informal). Important information for your solicitor might include details such as when and where these meetings took place, those present at the meetings (keep records of specific names), and what was said to you at these meetings.
d) A timeline of the events leading up to your dismissal – however minor the details may be (such as comments made to you in passing). This not only helps paint a picture for your solicitor but it may also reduce the overall time involved in preparing your case and thus the cost.
e) Any other information relating to your employment – especially those relating to any investigation or dismissal – remember that your solicitor may not be familiar with your employer, its business, its processes or the individuals behind it.
2. Mitigate your loss
In Ireland, those making any legal claim for damages have a duty to mitigate their loss. The mitigation principle dictates that if you suffer a loss, you must take reasonable action to minimise the amount of loss you have suffered. In respect of an Unfair Dismissal claim, this means that you must do all that you reasonably can to limit the loss you have incurred as a consequence of losing your employment.
The only way to mitigate your loss in an employment context is to obtain or try to obtain a new job and/or enrol in an educational course. Such is the importance of showing your efforts in this respect that failure to do so may result in an award for compensation not being given even if you win your case for unfair dismissal. It is important therefore that you keep all records of these attempts. These can include:
a) All job applications made – keep a record of the dates of each application and the job applied for.
b) All CVs sent – if sent by email, keep a copy of this and the replies received. If you have handed your CV into a premises directly, keep a note of the date you did so and the name of the person you handed the CV into.
c) All job interviews (when and where they took place).
d) Details of any training or educational courses you have enrolled in.
3. Keep your costs down
The Irish legal system works on the general principle that ‘costs follow the event’. This means that the winning side will, in most instances, have their costs, expenses and outlays paid for by the losing side. Unemployment law cases in the WRC however are not the same and both sides remain responsible for their own costs – irrespective of who wins. That’s why it’s important to keep your legal costs down.
There are a number of steps you can take to ensure that the case runs smoothly and that the preparation time in running the case is kept to a minimum. It follows that the more you help your Solicitor, the lower your costs are going to be. In this respect, there are a number of very simple initiatives that you can do to achieve this:
a) Provide your solicitor with a detailed written statement of your case. This will enable them to understand your case with ease and will reduce the amount of time they will need to prepare your case.
b) Prepare all necessary documents that your solicitor may require or request in advance. Do not have them chase you for documents as this takes unnecessary time and will inevitably increase the costs of any case.
c) Don’t book an appointment with your solicitor if you have a question or issue about your case that can be addressed via phone or email.
d) If an appointment is required, make sure your solicitor knows in advance what your issue is and why you wish to meet them. This not only allows your solicitor to prepare for the meeting in advance, but it will make your appointment take as little time as possible, thus reducing the costs involved. Preparing a list of questions in advance may also help reduce the time required.
In terms of fees, remember that your solicitor is prohibited from charging a percentage of any final settlement or award for damages. They will usually charge a fixed fee or a fee based on time spent. If it is the latter, remember to keep the time they spend on your case to a minimum. This will keep your costs down.
4. Get in touch
If you have been unfairly dismissed from your job and wish to make a claim, it’s important that you contact our team of employment law solicitors as soon as possible as strict time limits may apply to your claim. Generally speaking, Unfair Dismissal claims must be lodged within six months of the date of dismissal.
Employment law is a complicated area of Irish law. Seeking the advice of an experienced and professional employment law solicitor is therefore in your best interests. O’Brien Murphy Solicitors is that firm. If you would like to discuss how we can help you or if you would like to avail of a free, no obligation consultation, contact our employment law team on 01 8746959 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.