What Does The Law Say About Wrongful Dismissal In The Workplace?
by Arnab Dey Legal 30 March 2023
Have you been dismissed from your job and feel that you have been treated wrongly?
You could have a case for wrongful dismissal if your employer has breached the terms of your employment contract.
Wrongful dismissal claims can happen when the employment contract regarding notice periods needs to be followed. In many cases, this is caused by a lack of warnings about employment conduct and sacking without notice as dictated by the employment contract.
As an employer, it is essential to understand the laws surrounding wrongful dismissal and the legalities you must adhere to when looking to terminate an employment contract.
When you need to understand the law or wish to see if you have a case for wrongful dismissal, you should seek advice from experienced legal representatives such as O’Donnell Solicitors. Expert legal advice and representation for dismissed workers seeking redress under unlawful termination of contracts and employers facing claims of breaching employment law can be invaluable.
Key things to know about wrongful dismissal in the workplace
- Wrongful dismissal is a repudiatory breach that does not terminate a contract. It is a case that forces the employee to accept he has been prevented from earning and must seek employment elsewhere.
- An employer can only dismiss an employee without notice if there are specific clauses within the contract to do so, or in the first month of employment, or where trust and confidence in the employee are justifiably lost, known as ‘gross misconduct’, and actions are severe to warrant sacking on a first offense.
- Wrongful dismissal is not the same as unfair dismissal. Not all wrongful dismissals are unfair.
- Forcing an employee to resign through a severe breach of contract is constructive dismissal. This usually involves wrongful dismissal with notice periods not observed.
- If courts deem contractual notice periods insufficient, they can override with statutory minima and lengthen any sums awarded in place of notice.
- Wrongful dismissal only considers the loss of earnings and damage to reputation. No consideration is given to the reasons for dismissal.
- Wrongful dismissal claims are usually limited to the cost of what it would have been for the employer to observe contracted notice periods. However, as an employer, there is the risk that employees allege other contract breaches at the tribunal to gain compensatory awards. Court awards are unlimited and can lead to significant cost awards for employers found in violation.
- An employee has six years from the breach of employment contract to bring about a case for wrongful dismissal.
What Can Lead to A Wrongful Dismissal Case
Wrongful dismissal cases are often the result of employers incorrectly using gross misconduct as a valid reason to terminate employment. If the employee is underperforming during a probationary period, you should offer the same support to manage performance as you would with other employees.
Employers have no right to fire underperforming employees on the spot, so it may initially be beneficial to offer an extended probation period and support rather than dismissal to show you have been given a fair chance.
In all instances, you must observe statutory notice periods. Gardening leave or payment instead of notice are both areas that employers use to remove employees from the site instantly. However, whilst the employee benefits from not working during the notice period, this is, in fact, an area that is likely to be seen as illegal if the employee decides to fight the case.
Wrongful dismissal claims can damage your reputation as a fair employer and lead to future problems attracting staff.
The laws surrounding wrongful dismissal are complex, and they can certainly open doors for disgruntled employees to consider unfair and constructive dismissal actions at the tribunal or court. It is always wise to seek legal advice ahead of taking action to ensure that you act within the law and contract terms.