Wrongful dismissal occurs where the employer dismisses the employee in breach of contract. Examples of wrongful dismissal include not giving the employee any or inadequate notice of termination of employment, the termination of a fixed-term contract of employment early and dismissing the employee in breach of contractual disciplinary procedures.
The notice period the employee is entitled to is normally set out in their contract of employment. However, if there is no contract of employment or it is silent on this or the notice periods are less than those prescribed by law then the Employment Rights Act 1996 imposes minimum notice periods which are 1 week for 1 month up to 2 year’s employment and an additional week thereafter up to a maximum of 12 weeks.
A claim for wrongful dismissal must be brought in the Employment Tribunal within 3 months of the dismissal or in the Courts within 6 years of the dismissal although wrongful dismissal awards have a cap of £25,000 in the Employment Tribunals. Unlike for unfair dismissal claims, there is no minimum qualifying period required in order to bring a claim for wrongful dismissal nor does the claim itself necessarily consider whether the dismissal was fair. A wrongful dismissal claim can be brought at the same time as an unfair dismissal by the employee but if successful, the employer would only have to pay the value of one award though, even if both claims succeed.