Employment Law in Practice – Wrongful Dismissal

If you have been dismissed in unfair circumstances you may wonder if you have a case of wrongful dismissal and what this would mean. Wrongful dismissal is a legal term used by employment solicitors to describe the circumstances where your employer dismisses you in breach of your employment contract. The most frequent case of wrongful dismissal is where an employee is fired without the employer paying for the notice period. You may have a claim for wrongful dismissal if your employer dismisses you and did not follow the correct procedure, but only if the procedure is part of your contract of employment.So your first step is to look at your employment contract to see what you notice period is and whether the contract has a procedure for dismissing employees. What if you didn’t sign your contract? As long as you were given a contract and worked for your employer, you will probably be deemed to be bound by it. What if you haven’t got a written contract? Under UK employment law, once you have worked for a month you are entitled to a statutory minimum period of notice – one week if you have been employed between one month and two years and an additional week for each year of continuous employment between two and 12 years up to a maximum of 12 weeks if your are employed for 12 years or more. If you have been dismissed without notice, your employer may be entitled to do so if you have committed gross misconduct. Gross misconduct is misconduct that is so serious, such as dishonesty or violence, that your employer is entitled to dismiss you for it.A claim for wrongful dismissal can be brought in the employment tribunal or a court. The compensation you would get would depend on the breach by your employer. If it is a simple failure to pay notice, you will only be entitled to claim the notice pay. If your employer has failed to follow a contractual procedure to dismiss you then the court or tribunal may decide that you would have remained employed for a longer period whilst your employer followed the correct procedure, and give you the additional wages for that period. As a consequence the amounts claimed are fairly low – unless you are a football manager of a two year contract where your employer has to ‘buy’ you out. It is probably not worthwhile instructing employment solicitors to help you with a claim. However, if you use the employment tribunal route the claim is usually straightforward. You can also get help and free advice from your local Citizens Advice Centre or Law Centre.If you think the reason for your dismissal or the way you were dismissed was unfair then so long as you had been employed for one year you should look at unfair dismissal, as you may be able to claim compensation or ask for your job back.This is the first in a series of articles about common problems in employment law. Watch for the next titles to find out more about unfair dismissal or read how employment law in practice works and get some top tips from an employment solicitor.

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