Wrongful dismissal is a situation that arises where an employer dismisses an employee in breach of contract.

Common examples of wrongful dismissal are:

  • No notice or inadequate notice is given and it is not a case of gross misconduct entitling dismissal without notice
  • Termination of a fixed term contract before it is due to expire
  • Dismissal in breach of contractual disciplinary procedures
  • Dismissal in breach of contractual redundancy procedures

Case law has now held that you can also claim loss of a discretionary bonus during the damages period claimed.

An application must be made to the Tribunal within 3 months of the dismissal.

Unlike unfair dismissal there is no minimum qualifying period necessary in order to bring a claim for wrongful dismissal.

In essence, a wrongful dismissal claim is usually limited to either the contractual or statutory notice period the employee is entitled to.

The notice period the employee is entitled to is normally set out in his Contract of Employment. If there is no Contract of Employment, if the Contract is silent on the point, or if the notice in the contract is less than that prescribed by Law (see below), then statute imposes the following minimum notice periods.

Wrongful Dismissal – Working for less than a month
no notice

Wrongful Dismissal – Working for more than one month up to 2 years
1 week

Wrongful Dismissal – Working for two years
2 weeks

Wrongful Dismissal – For every year after two years
Add one additional week up to a maximum of 12 weeks

It is possible for an Employment Tribunal to award compensation for a period above the statutory minimum in accordance with common Law. For example, if a senior employee worked in a trade where three months’ notice was the norm, a Tribunal would award compensation for that three months, even if the statutory minimum was only one month.