I think I have been unfairly sacked from my part-time student job. Is there anything I can do?

Unfortunately, many students don't get general protection against unfair dismissal from part-time jobs, because you don't get this right until you've been in the same job for two years.

However, you may still have a case for unfair dismissal from day one if you've been sacked for one of the reasons classed as 'automatically unfair'. These include:

  • being a member of, or engaged in activities connected to, an independent trade union;
  • taking legitimate steps to ensure the observance of health and safety workplace requirements;
  • making disclosures of wrongdoing under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (more commonly known as 'whistleblowing');
  • because of pregnancy or childbirth;
  • being discriminated against on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation;
  • claiming legally protected family rights, including maternity and parental leave, adoption leave or time off for dependants;
  • acting as an employee representative;
  • acting as an occupational pension scheme trustee;
  • being a part-time or fixed-term employee;
  • asserting a statutory right;
  • refusing to work on a Sunday if working in retail or betting (unless part of your existing contract); and
  • seeking entitlements under the National Minimum Wage Act 1998.

If you have been doing the job for more than two years, you have a degree of protection in that you can bring a claim for unfair dismissal. Here, the onus will be on your employer to prove that they had a legitimate reason for dismissing you, as you are entitled to written reasons for the termination of your post. Timing is tight though – you normally only have three months to bring your claim.

See our section on Enforcing your Rights for advice about employment tribunals and Acas Early Conciliation.

You should get legal advice on your situation before pursuing any case for unfair dismissal. Talk to your union if you have one, visit your university job shop or use an advice agency, such as Citizens Advice.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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