The laws surrounding wrongful dismissal are complex, making it easy to get confused. But, with First4Lawyers’ help, that doesn’t have to deter you from taking legal action.
If you have been dismissed from your job and you think that your employer may be in breach of the terms of your contract, it is highly advisable that you seek the advice of experts.
Here at First4Lawyers, the employment solicitors we make available to you are specialists with all the knowledge needed to help you. Get in touch for a no-obligation discussion about your legal standing.
What is wrongful dismissal?
Wrongful dismissal happens when your employer breaks the terms of your contract when dismissing you.
Many people confuse wrongful dismissal with unfair dismissal. Wrongful dismissal relates to the terms of your contract, whereas unfair dismissal relates to your statutory rights (gov.uk website). However, you must be aware that dismissal can be both unfair and wrongful.
What counts as wrongful dismissal?
You can claim wrongful dismissal if you are fired without notice, or with less notice than stipulated in your contract.
Constructive dismissal counts as wrongful dismissal when your employer commits a serious breach of contract, and you feel that you have no choice but to resign because of that.
My employer will not renew my employment contract. Can I claim wrongful dismissal?
That might be unlikely. When a fixed term contract expires, your employer has no obligation to renew it. However, you are welcome to talk to one of our advisors about the specifics of your situation.
How much notice am I entitled to?
Your employment contract or handbook should define how much notice you are entitled to. This cannot be less – but it can be more – than the period that the law guarantees you as part of your statutory rights.
The minimum period your employer must give you will depend on the length of time you have worked for the company.
If you have been in the same job non-stop for a period of one month to two years, the law says that you should receive a minimum notice period of one week. Your employer does not need to give you any notice if you have been working for them for less than one month.
If you have been working continuously for your employer for two years or more, your employer has a legal obligation to give you a minimum of one week’s notice for each full year you worked for them (up to a maximum of 12 weeks).
However, an employment tribunal or court may rule you’re entitled to “reasonable notice”, which may constitute a period of more than 12 weeks.
Your employer may offer to pay you to cover your notice period in lieu of having you work the notice period. This is called ‘payment in lieu of notice’ (PILON). This allows your employer to end your employment without giving you any notice.
To do this without breaching its contractual obligations, your employer must pay you for all the wages you would receive if you were to work through your notice period.
How much compensation will I get for wrongful dismissal?
This will depend on your specific circumstances. The law stipulates that the aim of claiming damages is to compensate the losses you incur as a direct result of the breach of contract.
You cannot therefore make a claim to simply punish your employer. Instead, the law intends that the money you receive should put you in the same position that you would be in had you not lost your job.
As a result, you can claim against loss of earnings, holiday pay, insurance, commissions, bonuses, company cars, pension and more. You cannot claim against things that happened as an indirect result of the dismissal.
How do you claim wrongful dismissal?
You can pursue your claim either before an employment tribunal, or in a civil law court. The option you choose may depend on the amount of compensation that you are entitled to.
For example, an employment tribunal cannot award more than £25,000 for wrongful dismissal. However, such a restriction does not apply in the civil courts.
I think I may have a claim for wrongful dismissal – what should I do?
If you believe you have case for wrongful dismissal, you may want help to understand exactly where you stand. Losing your job is never easy, but a successful claim may help to ease any issues that arise afterward.
Whatever the specific circumstances of your wrong dismissal claim, First4Lawyers can help. We can assign expert employment lawyers with specialist knowledge of your type of case.