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If you dismiss an employee from their job in breach of their contract, you put yourself at risk of legal action and could end up having to pay compensation for wrongful dismissal. Our team of specialist employment law solicitors are here to help you avoid this outcome by promoting the best interests of your business while protecting your employees’ legal rights.
At Glanvilles, we provide specialist legal advice on compliance with employment law both on a day-to-day basis and to address specific issues that arise in the course of running a business. As well as our extensive legal knowledge, our team possess an astute level of commercial awareness that we use to help businesses of all sizes and structures succeed.
If your business does not have its own dedicated HR professionals, we would be more than happy to fulfil the legal aspects of this role for you, from reviewing employment contracts, to advising on dismissal policies and procedures. We can also provide advice where a wrongful dismissal issue has arisen, including liaising with Acas (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service), negotiating Settlement Agreements (also known as Compromise Agreements), and defending Employment Tribunal or County Court claims.
Whether you are looking for advice about potentially dismissing an employee or you are facing a claim from a former employee, we are on hand to help. Our employment law team can quickly assess your situation and provide advice on whether your employee has any prospect for success in a wrongful dismissal claim.
We will outline your options for proceeding in detail and guide you through the entire process. Wherever possible, we will utilise robust negotiation tactics to reach a harmonious resolution with your employee before they make a claim to the Employment Tribunal or County Court.
Before any employee can start an Employment Tribunal claim, they must inform Acas who will give them the opportunity to use their Early Conciliation service.
The purpose of Early Conciliation is to help employers and employees reach an adequate resolution that favours the interests of both parties. It is typically a good idea to engage with this process as meaningfully as possible to try to settle the matter quickly and cost-effectively without escalating to litigation.
We can represent you throughout the process and all other Acas related matters, including providing advice on the Acas Code of Practice.
A Settlement Agreement (sometimes referred to as a Compromise Agreement) is a legal contract that you can enter into with your employee to formally end their employment and settle a dispute.
Typically, you will agree to pay a sum of money and in return, your employee will agree to drop any claims they have. This means they will be unable to take legal action against you in the future.
Settlement Agreements must fulfil strict legal requirements to be considered valid, including the requirement that your employee takes independent legal advice.
We can provide in-depth advice about Settlement Agreements, including drafting and reviewing terms, negotiating with your employee, and ensuring the final agreement is clear, unambiguous and legally valid.
Wrongful dismissal is a unique type of employment law claim because it can be brought in either the Employment Tribunal or the County Court. We have practical experience representing businesses throughout both types of proceedings. We will prioritise the interests of your business at all times with the aim of minimising any disruption or negative publicity that might arise.
Wrongful dismissal is when an employee is dismissed in breach of their employment contract. Typically, such claims relate to notice periods, for example, if an employee is dismissed without notice or with less notice than outlined in their employee contract.
Unfair dismissal is when an employee is dismissed in breach of their statutory rights. Some dismissals are automatically unfair, for example, if an employee is dismissed because of a protected characteristic under equality laws. In other cases, the employee must prove that the dismissal was unfair.
Wrongful dismissal is different because it refers to a breach of contractual rights, not statutory rights (although an employee may have a claim for both, for example, if they are dismissed unfairly without notice).
Unlike unfair dismissal, it does not matter whether a wrongful dismissal was fair or not, simply whether it was in breach of the employee’s contract of employment. This means that even if your reason for dismissal is completely justified, the employee’s claim could still succeed if it progresses to court or an Employment Tribunal.
Wrongful dismissal claims can be brought at any time no matter how long the employee has worked for their employer. Unfair dismissal claims can only be brought within the employee’s first 2 years of employment if the reason they were dismissed is automatically unfair. For all other unfair reasons, the employee must have worked for their employer for a continuous period of 2 years.
Most wrongful dismissal claims arise because an employee is dismissed without notice or with less notice than outlined in their employment contract.
An employee is entitled to the notice period that is stipulated in their employment contract or handbook. However, this cannot be less than the amount set out in law. The minimum amount of notice you can give an employee depends on how long they have worked for the business:
An Employment Tribunal may also decide that a notice period over 12 weeks would be reasonable in the circumstances, so it is always important to seek legal advice regarding suitable notice periods.
You may be able to agree with your employee to end their employment immediately subject to you making ‘payment in lieu of notice’. To do this, you must pay your employee everything they would receive if they had worked their notice period.
There are certain circumstances in which an employer can dismiss an employee without notice, such as if the employee commits gross misconduct – this could include being violent towards a colleague or customer.
As an employer, you should always seek legal advice and go through proper investigation procedures before summarily dismissing an employee for gross misconduct.
Putting in place clear employment contracts, policies and procedures and seeking early legal advice when you need to dismiss an employee is essential to avoid wrongful dismissal claims.
With strong contracts and procedures in place, there is little room for dispute when you need to exercise your rights as an employer. However, where issues do arise, seeking early legal advice from solicitors with negotiation and conflict resolution expertise can save you a full-blown employment law dispute and lengthy, expensive and disruptive court or tribunal litigation.
One of the first things we will pick up in an employee’s wrongful dismissal claim is whether they are time-barred. There are strict time limits for bringing a claim and if the employee falls outside of the limit, they may be unable to make the claim.
The time limit depends on whether the employee brings the case in the County Courts or an Employment Tribunal.
For Employment Tribunal cases, the employee only has 3 months from the date of dismissal (although this time limit may be frozen if they use Acas’s Early Conciliation procedure).
If the employee brings their claim in the County Court, they have 6 years from the date of dismissal.
There are many factors that may affect whether an employee chooses the Employment Tribunal route or the County Court route and we can provide further advice that is tailored to the individual circumstances of your case.
Our employment lawyers have years of extensive experience helping individuals and businesses across a range of sectors. Our job is to stay on top of employment laws so you can concentrate on running and growing your business with minimal risk of running into employment disputes.
We are committed to providing the highest quality of advice and customer service. When you work with us, you can expect:
Glanvilles are members of the Law Society Lexcel Accreditation Scheme for our recognised standards of legal practice management and client care.
We are independently regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).