Real Employment Law Advice

What’s the difference between unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal?

Difference between Unfair Dismissal & Wrongful Dismissal

Unfair Dismissal

Unfair dismissal occurs when an employee is dismissed and the Employer does not have one of the potentially fair reasons for dismissing, and/or they have behaved unreasonably in dismissing the employee for that reason.

In order to claim unfair dismissal, in most cases, an employee needs to have been employed for a minimum of 2 years.

There are some exceptions to this, if the employee started their employment before 6 April 2012, or if they have been dismissed for a reason which would make the dismissal automatically unfair. For more information on this see article Automatic Unfair Dismissal or the Unfair Dismissal page.

Wrongful Dismissal

Wrongful dismissal occurs where an employee is dismissed from their employment without sufficient notice, for example they are told to leave immediately.

All employees are entitled to receive a minimum legal notice period after they have been employed for 1 month. From 1 month to 2 years one week notice is required, thereafter it is one week for each full year of service.

Example: employee Joe Bloggs is employed by Big business from 1st January 2010 and is dismissed on the 31st May 2013. He has been employed for 3 full years and is therefore entitled to 3 weeks’ notice by law.

The only exception to this is where an employee is dismissed for gross misconduct; in this situation there is no entitlement to notice.

Employees are legally required to give a minimum of 1 week notice.

In many cases Employers will agree to give a longer notice period, known as contractual notice, as it is normally contained in the Contract of Employment.

As you can see the difference between unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal is that they are two different types of employment claim that potentially arise when an employee is dismissed.

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The information contained in this blog post is provided for guidance and is a snapshot of the law at the time it is written. It is provided for your information only and should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice that it specific to your particular circumstances.

The guidance should not be relied upon in any decision making process. It is strongly recommended that you seek advice before taking action.


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