Many thanks for your patience. The starting point is that if you have been continuously employed at you place of work for less than 2 years then your employment rights will unfortunately be somewhat limited. Most importantly, you will not be protected against unfair dismissal. This means that your employer can dismiss you for more or less any reason, and without following a fair procedure, as long as the decision is not based on a reason which makes a dismissal automatically unfair. These include:
· Discrimination due to a protected characteristic (i.e. because of gender, race, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, etc.)
· Taking, or trying to take, leave for family reasons including pregnancy, maternity/paternity leave, parental leave, adoption leave or leave for dependants
In the event that the reason for dismissal fell within any of these categories, then the dismissal could be automatically unfair and there could also be a potential discrimination claim. In these circumstances the 2-year rule would not apply.
However, if the dismissal had nothing to do with any of the above exceptions, you would not be able to challenge it. In that case your only protection would be if you were dismissed in breach of contract. That would usually happen if you were not paid any contractual notice period due to you (unless you were dismissed for gross misconduct, where no notice would be due). If you did not have a written contract in place you would be entitled to the minimum statutory notice period of 1 week. The employer would either have to allow you to work that notice period and pay you as normal, or they instead have to pay you in lieu of notice, where you are paid for the equivalent of the notice pay but your employment is terminated immediately.
In your case you can only potentially challenge them if your depression in the past amounted to a disability and this was the actual reason for your dismissal.
Disability can have a broad meaning from a legal perspective and there is no single list of medical conditions that qualify. Potentially anything can amount to a disability if it meets the required criteria.
The Equality Act 2010 defines a disability as a “physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”.
I will break this definition down and examine it in more detail:
- Physical or mental impairment – this can include nearly any medical condition, be it physical or mental
- Substantial effect – the effect must be more than minor or trivial
- Long-term - the impairment must either have lasted or be likely to last for at least 12 months
- Normal day-to-day activities – these could include anything considered ‘normal’ in a person's normal daily routine (e.g. shopping, reading and writing, having a conversation or using the telephone, watching television, getting washed and dressed, preparing and eating food, carrying out household tasks, walking and travelling by various forms of transport, and taking part in social activities)
If a person satisfies the above criteria, they will be classified as being disabled and will have automatic protection against discrimination. This means that they must not be treated unfavourably because of their disability. So if you were dismissed because of a disability, past or present, it can make the dismissal automatically unfair and you can challenge it in the Employment Tribunal.
Does this answer your query?