Being dismissed from work is an upsetting and frustrating experience for anyone. But it can be particularly distressing if your employer has breached your employment contract and dismissed you when they had no legal right to do so.
At Gepp Solicitors, we have handled countless wrongful dismissal claims in our decades of employment law experience.
We can help you challenge your dismissal and claim compensation for loss of earnings and other benefits you would have accrued had your contract been properly carried out, such as holiday pay, private health insurance, and pension losses.
What is wrongful dismissal?
Wrongful dismissal, sometimes referred to as wrongful termination or wrongful discharge, is when you are fired from your job in breach of your employment contract. Common examples of wrongful dismissal include:
- When an employee is dismissed without sufficient notice as specified in their employment contract
- When an employee is dismissed in breach of their statutory notice period
- When an employer ends a fixed term contract before the end of the term
- When an employer breaches the contractual disciplinary or redundancy procedure
Why choose our employment law solicitors?
Wrongful dismissal compensation claims can be complex, relying on the wording of your employment contract, proof of breach and subsequent loss to succeed. However, with one of our legal specialists by your side, you can trust that your best interests will be properly defended.
We can provide simple, practical advice about your prospects for making a claim and the best way to pursue your objectives. Wherever possible, we utilise robust negotiation skills to start a dialogue with your employer and make your grievances and expectations clear.
As we also provide advice to businesses about handling wrongful dismissal claims, we understand the pressures facing your employer and the disruption a successful claim can cause a business. We therefore have a strong track record of being able to convince employers to engage in settlement discussions at this stage, avoiding lengthy court proceedings.
If we cannot achieve a suitable settlement at the negotiation stage, we can also help you take further action. Because wrongful dismissal involves a breach of contract, you can either pursue your claim through an Employment Tribunal or the County Court/High Court. We will provide in-depth advice about the advantages of both types of action so you can make an informed decision about how you want to proceed.
Our employment law team is headed by Alexandra Dean, a Partner in our firm with 20 years of experience. Alex is a member of the Employment Lawyers Association, demonstrating her expertise across a wide range of employment related matters.
What’s the difference between wrongful dismissal and unfair dismissal?
Wrongful dismissal and unfair dismissal are often referred to interchangeably but there are important differences between the two concepts.
Wrongful dismissal relates to a breach of employment contract. There is no “qualifying period” of time you need to work for your employer before you can be wrongfully dismissed.
Unfair dismissal is a statutory right and does not necessarily relate to a breach of contract. It is when your employer dismisses you but:
- They do not have a good reason; or
- They do not follow the business’s formal disciplinary or dismissal procedure
You must have worked for your employer for a “qualifying period” of time before you can make a claim – at least 2 years less 1 week of continuous service.
You may have a claim for unfair dismissal if you were fired because:
- You refused to give up your employment rights, such as your right to take breaks
- You applied for maternity, paternity or adoption leave
- You asked to work flexibly
You can only bring unfair dismissal claims in an Employment Tribunal but wrongful dismissal claims can be brought in either the Employment Tribunal or County Court.
What are the time limits for wrongful dismissal claims?
The time limit for bringing a wrongful dismissal claim depends on what court you bring your claim in.
If you are bringing your claim in the Employment Tribunal, you have 3 months less 1 day from the date of dismissal.
If you are bringing your claim in the County Court or High Court, you have 6 years from the date of dismissal.
Wrongful dismissal and Notice periods
Your notice period will usually be set out in your contract of employment. However, if you do not have a written contract or it does not mention a notice period, then your notice period will be set out by law (called your statutory notice period).
Statutory notice periods
Your statutory notice period depends on how long you have worked for your employer:
- Less than 1 month – no notice period
- 1 month up to 2 years – 1 week
- 2 years – 2 weeks
- For every year after 2 years – 1 additional week for every year worked up to a maximum of 12 weeks
Dismissal without notice
If your employer thinks you have committed an act of “gross misconduct” in breach of your employment contract, they may dismiss you without notice (often referred to as summary dismissal). Examples of gross misconduct include theft, offering or accepting bribes, or sexual harassment.
In these situations, your employer is still required to follow proper disciplinary procedure. If they do not, this usually amounts to a claim for unfair dismissal.
Dismissal and probationary periods
You are entitled to your statutory notice period from day 1 of your employment. Typically, for employees in their probation period, their contractual notice period will be 1 month (usually rising to around 1 month once the probation period has ended).
Therefore, unless you have worked for your employer for less than 1 month, if your employer tries to dismiss you without notice, you may have a claim for wrongful dismissal compensation.
Dismissal with payment in lieu of notice
If your employer dismisses you but makes what is called a “payment in lieu of notice”, this will not usually be considered a breach of your employment contract. If your employment contract does not specify a right to terminate by making a payment in lieu of notice, you may still have the right to bring a claim unless your employer has not caused you loss. We can provide further advice about payments in lieu of notice.