Wrongful Dismissal Claims – what are they?
People often assume that wrongful dismissal is the same as unfair dismissal – in fact it is something different. Wrongful dismissal focuses on contract law and occurs when an employer breaks an employee’s contract in the process of dismissing them.
Common causes of wrongful dismissal
The most common cases of wrongful dismissal occur when an employee is dismissed with notice that is too short – or is dismissed without any notice at all. The employee’s contract will set out the minimum amount of notice that is needed prior to dismissal – so if an employer breaches that contractual term this is likely to be a case of wrongful dismissal and the dismissed employee would be entitled to bring a wrongful dismissal claim against the employer. It can also count as wrongful dismissal if an employee is dismissed for disciplinary reasons but the employer fails to follow the correct disciplinary procedure as laid out by the employee’s contract.
Dismissal without notice
There are some circumstances, however, when an employer is allowed to dismiss an employee without notice. This will generally be in circumstances where the employee has committed a serious breach of their contract, such as by stealing from the company they are employed for.
Minimum notice periods
The law also lays down minimum notice periods that employers and employees must observe, although quite often contracts will require more notice to be given. For example, by law, an employee who has been in a job for less than a month does not need to be given notice by the employer before being dismissed. An employee with more than a month’s service is entitled to a week’s notice and an employee with at least two years’ service is entitled to two weeks’ notice. The notice then rises by one week per year the employee is employed at the company.
However, some companies have contracts that state employees with only a year’s service must be given three months’ notice before dismissal, so it is worth making sure you know what it states in your contract so you have a better understanding of your case. It is also worth noting that, just as an employer is bound by the contract to provide the employee with a certain amount of notice prior to dismissing them, if an employee chooses to leave the company they will be bound by the same contractual obligations.
If you think you might have a case for a wrongful dismissal, then you should seek legal advice about the process of making an employment tribunal claim. If your claim is successful, then you will be entitled to be paid for the correct notice period and any other unpaid wages. You will also be entitled to other damages, such as for loss of holiday pay, commission or pension. The tribunal hearing will assess your case to see how much you are entitled to in terms of damages and this will vary from case to case.
Overall, there are multiple scenarios in which you might find yourself with an employment tribunal wrongful dismissal claim, so it is definitely a good idea to seek legal advice so that you can clarify the issue and begin the process of resolving it.
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