What is wrongful dismissal?

The term “wrongful dismissal” is generally applied to breach of employment contract claims. It can also be used to describe the situation where an employer does not abide by their minimum statutory obligations to give the employee notice and fails to make payment in lieu of notice. It’s important to distinguish wrongful dismissal from unfair dismissal; the latter relates to dismissals which are not based on fair reasons or which do not comply with the correct dismissal procedure. But, although distinct, claims are often made for both wrongful and unfair dismissal (although any money received under one claim will usually be cancelled out by the same amount received under the other claim). Employees who have not completed the minimum amount of service (i.e. at least two years’ continuous employment) can still lodge a claim for wrongful dismissal with an employment tribunal – or at County Court or High Court, depending on the value of the claim.

When might you face a wrongful dismissal claim?

If an employer breaches the employment contract when dismissing an employee, or does not provide the statutory minimum period of notice, and the employee suffers a loss as a result, this can amount to wrongful dismissal. For example, a summary dismissal will usually be considered wrongful dismissal, unless it was made as a result of gross misconduct (e.g. theft or violence). Failure by the employer to follow any contractual disciplinary procedure can also lead to a wrongful dismissal claim.

How to avoid wrongful dismissal claims

There are several steps you can take to avoid being accused of wrongful dismissal:

●    ensure you have a robust grievance and disciplinary procedure in place
●    understand your obligations with regards to notice periods
●    always follow the terms and conditions contained in employment contracts

The employment law team at CH Legal can help you to take all the required steps to prevent wrongful dismissal. To find out more, get in touch with Caroline Tomlinson or call 0845 4786 354.