What is automatically unfair dismissal?

Claiming unfair dismissal

An employee could claim unfair dismissal through the CCMA in the following circumstances:

  • a contract worker whose fixed-term contract is suddenly ended or renewed on less favourable terms, where the worker expected the contract to be renewed because it has often been renewed before
  • a worker who was forced to walk out or resign because the employer made the working environment impossible to tolerate
  • a woman who is not taken back into her job after her maternity leave
  • a worker terminates his or her contract because the employer has transferred the contract to another employer on conditions which are substantially less favourable.


Automatically unfair dismissals

The following reasons for dismissal are invalid. The dismissal will be regarded as automatically unfair if the worker is dismissed for:

  • exercising any of the rights given by the LRA or participating in proceedings in terms of the Act.
  • taking part in lawful union activities
  • taking part in a legal strike or other industrial action or protest action
  • refusing to do the work of someone who was on strike
  • being pregnant, or any reason related to pregnancy
  • refusing to accept a change in working conditions
  • reasons that are due to arbitrary discrimination (except that an employer may retire someone who has reached the normal or agreed retirement age, or if the reason is based on an inherent requirement of the job, for example being able to speak a certain language in order to do the job properly)
  • a reason related to a transfer following a merger of the company with another organisation
  • where the employee is dismissed following a disclosure made by him in terms of the “Disclosure of Information Act”.

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