Wrongful Dismissal

Last update: 20th May 2021

4 key elements to understanding wrongful dismissal compensation claims

It is very common for wrongful dismissal to be confused with unfair dismissal.

Simply put, wrongful dismissal is where you have resigned or been dismissed by your employer, and there is ‘breach of your contract’ as a result. One of the most common examples of this is where you are dismissed without being paid the notice pay, or other benefits contractually due to you.

what is wrongful dismissal

To help avoid confusion we have put together this simple guide to wrongful dismissal. It will help you understand where you may have a claim against your employer, what you can claim for, the options available to you, and how to advance your claim at Employment Tribunal.

1. What is wrongful dismissal?

Wrongful dismissal occurs when your employer dismisses you in breach of the terms of your employment contract, or fails to adhere to its terms when you resign.

This most typically relates:

  • A failure to pay notice and benefits due to you under your contract
  • Where your employer has not carried out the proper dismissal procedure. A breach of contractual procedure (this would need to be as set out in your contract, rather than staff handbook to qualify as wrongful dismissal).
  • The early termination of a fixed-term contract (where no early termination provision is in place)
ESSENTIAL FOR YOU TO KNOW

If your employment contract does not contain a notice clause, you are still entitled to statutory notice pay under legislation.

Your statutory notice stipulates that after 1 month’s service you are entitled to receive:

  • One week’s notice
  • And after that, a week’s notice for each year served (capped at a maximum of 12 weeks)

So, if you have been dismissed (for anything other than gross misconduct) and your employer fails to meet the contractual provisions you are entitled to, you can pursue a claim at Employment Tribunal for that amount.

Under UK employment law, your employer cannot include a contractual term that gives you less notice than the statutory amount.

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2. What can I claim for?

Unlike other employment tribunal claims such as unfair dismissal and constructive dismissal you can only claim for the financial loss incurred by breach of contract. There is no compensatory element to a wrongful dismissal claim.

For example, if you were earning £400 p/wk and had been working for your employer for three and a half years (providing there was nothing in your contract that would provide a better notice period, or payment in lieu of notice) you would be entitled to claim £1,200 if that had not been paid to you by your employer.

ESSENTIAL FOR YOU TO KNOW

Wrongful dismissal claims at Employment Tribunal are capped at a statutory maximum of £25,000.


3. When can I claim wrongful dismissal?

Unlike an unfair dismissal claim, there is no qualifying duration of service for wrongful dismissal claims. Therefore, you will not need to have worked with your employer for a minimum duration, such as 2 years.

As this relates to a breach of contract you can advance a claim as soon as your statutory notice period applies.

This is where a failure to follow contractual procedure can commonly result in your employer facing a wrongful dismissal claim.

For example, where you do not have the 2 year duration of service needed to qualify for an unfair dismissal claim (excluding those circumstances where it would be considered an automatic unfair dismissal), if you have been dismissed without the proper procedure, you can make a wrongful dismissal claim for what you should have been paid if that procedure had been followed correctly, regardless of length of service.

Time limits to advancing your claim at tribunal

As with unfair dismissal, the time limitation for advancing a wrongful dismissal claim at Employment Tribunal is 3 months less 1 day. You can find more information regarding time limits on our Employment Tribunal page.

4. What options are available to you?

Because wrongful dismissal claims are only concerned with whether your employer was in ‘breach of contract’, you are able to pursue your claim via the Employment Tribunal or Civil Courts.

Claims advanced at Employment Tribunal are subject to a statutory cap of £25,000 and will need to be brought within the time limit of 3 months (less 1 day) from your effective date of termination (EDT).

A tribunal claim is likely to be resolved more quickly, and you are very unlikely to have costs awarded against you if you lose.

If pursued through the Civil Courts, you have 6 years to advance your claim and there is no cap to the amount that could be awarded if you are successful. Unlike Employment Tribunal, if you lose your case, you will be liable for the other side’s costs and these are generally higher than in a tribunal case.

Where you believe you are entitled to wrongful dismissal compensation, but are unsure of the best option to pursue, submit details of your claim and we can advise accordingly.

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How to advance your claim at Employment Tribunal

If the value of your wrongful dismissal compensation claim is in excess of £3,000 and we feel you have a viable case, our no win no fee policy could apply.

Where the potential compensation value does not allow for no win no fee representation, you can advance your claim yourself online. Alternatively, we can offer paperwork guidance and immediate solicitor advice via our popular Talk to Tom consultations.

Our team of specialist employment law solicitors have helped many individuals like you successfully claim wrongful dismissal compensation at Employment Tribunals across the UK.

Our knowledgable and friendly team are available to speak to you today. If you want a preliminary assessment of your case, call us now on 0800 014 8727 or 020 3923 0888 and we will be happy to help you.

If it is more convenient, you are welcome to submit your details for assessment via our online enquiry form. Once we have received your information we will respond to your enquiry within 48 hours via phone, email or text message.