Fired? - Wrongful Dismissal

Wrongful dismissal is essentially a breach of contract claim.

Your contract of employment should set out the procedure your employer will use to discipline or dismiss you. If your employer does not follow that procedure and you are dismissed, they will have breached the contract of employment and you may be entitled to compensation.

Examples of wrongful dismissal

A breach of contract that often leads to a wrongful dismissal claim is an employer’s failure to give the employee the correct amount of notice of their dismissal, or the failure to give them any notice at all.

You are entitled to a statutory minimum amount of notice under employment law. Your employer cannot lower the amount of notice you are entitled under the law; however, they can increase it by giving you a longer notice period in your employment contract.

If your employment contract does not contain a notice clause and your employer does not give you the statutory minimum notice of your dismissal, you may have an unfair dismissal claim. If they do not fulfil their contractual obligations towards you in terms of notice of dismissal, you will have a wrongful dismissal claim.

Your employment contract may contain a term that allows your employer to pay you in lieu of notice. This means they do not have to give you notice of your dismissal as long as they pay you for the period of notice you were meant to receive.

If your employer does not pay you in lieu of notice, or they pay you the wrong amount, you may have a claim for wrongful dismissal.

Wrongful dismissal can also occur if an employer fails to correctly follow the disciplinary procedure set out in your contract of employment. For example, if the contract states that you will have the opportunity to appeal your employer’s decision and you are not allowed to do so, you may have a claim for wrongful dismissal.

If your wrongful dismissal claim is successful, you could be entitled to receive compensation.

Summary Dismissals

There are certain situations where your employer is legally entitled to dismiss you without giving you any notice. These are called ‘summary dismissals’. Your employer can summarily dismiss you if you have committed a gross breach of contract or if you are found guilty of gross misconduct.

A gross breach of contract could be:

  • Stealing from your employer
  • Wilfully refusing to obey a lawful and reasonable order
  • The breakdown of mutual trust and confidence between you and your employer

Gross misconduct could be:

  • Violence in the workplace
  • Harassing another employee
  • Dishonesty
  • Gross neglect of duties

If you are summarily dismissed by your employer, you may not be entitled to payment in lieu of notice.

Your employer should ensure they have all the facts before summarily dismissing you. If they can justify your dismissal but have not acted fairly in the process, you may have a claim for unfair dismissal.

Job Justice can help

If you think you may have a claim for wrongful dismissal, or unfair dismissal, you will find it useful to get some legal advice regarding your situation.

We can put you in touch with one of our specialist employment solicitors. Simply call us for free on 0800 533 5799 or fill in our online contact form and we’ll be in touch to discuss your situation.


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