What is Wrongful Dismissal?
Unlike unfair dismissal, which is a statutory right, wrongful dismissal is an old common law concept and derives from a contractual breach (failure to give proper notice, or breach of another contractual term such as failure to follow the contractual disciplinary process).
The contract can be written or oral and unlike an unfair dismissal claim, fairness is not at issue.
Remedies for wrongful dismissal
A wrongfully dismissed employee can recover damages for breach of contract. The idea is to put the employee in the position s/he would have been in if the employer had not broken the contract.
The damages recoverable will be the wages and other benefits that would have been earned or accrued during the contractual notice period, such as pension entitlement, private health cover, car allowance and bonus (especially where the bonus is tangible, and not discretionary).
It is not possible to recover compensation for mental distress or injury to feelings caused by wrongful dismissal.
Dismissals with pay in lieu of notice
It is common for an employer not to require an employee to work out his notice period and to pay him in lieu of notice. Such payment in lieu of notice is usually regarded as damages for wrongful dismissal (unless otherwise specified in the contract). In these circumstances, the employer would not be in breach of contract by making a payment in lieu and it is therefore unlikely that there could be any claim for wrongful dismissal.
When should an employee make a claim?
There is no length of service required for a breach of contract claim, which can be brought either to the county court or High Court or, where the claim arises out of or is outstanding on termination of employment and its value does not exceed £25,000, to an employment tribunal.
Normally, an employee who wants to bring a wrongful dismissal claim in an Employment Tribunal must commence ACAS Early Conciliation within three months less one day of the Effective Date of Termination and 6 years if the claim is being made through the courts.
If you would like to have a consultation to discuss your potential wrongful dismissal claim with an experienced solicitor, then please contact us on 020 8318 4345 to arrange an appointment.