Employment law and dismissal


In employment law, dismissal claims can be brought by employees in a number of cases. Below is a summary of some of the main employment law dismissal claims that can be raised by an employee subject to meeting the qualifying conditions.

What is dismissal?

An employee is dismissed by an employer in any one of the following scenarios:

  • The employer terminates the employee's employment contract, with or without notice
  • The employee's fixed-term contract comes to an end and is not renewed
  • The employee terminates his employment contract with or without notice when his employer's conduct warrants him to terminate it without notice

Unfair dismissal

Unfair dismissal occurs either where the dismissal is:

  • Made for one of several automatically unfair reasons
  • It is not made for a statutory fair reason
  • The process in which dismissal was carried out was not reasonable

If an employee feels they have been unfairly dismissed, they can bring a claim for unfair dismissal.


If they feel they were discriminated against they can bring a claim under anti-discrimination laws, for example due to their:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race

There are many forms of discrimination that can occur, and you may also have a claim if you are suffering bullying or harassment.

Constructive dismissal

An employee may be able to claim constructive dismissal if they were forced to resign from their job due to the conduct of their employer. In constructive dismissal, it is the employee who resigns, rather than the employer terminating the employment relationship. However, the critical feature of constructive dismissal is that the employer’s behaviour caused the employee to resign.

Other types of dismissal claim

In addition to the above, in employment law, dismissal claims can be made for:

  • Unfair redundancy. Redundancy is in effect a type of dismissal. However, different legal rules apply to redundancy, and if a redundancy is not carried out according to employment law it could lead to a claim for wrongful or unfair dismissal
  • Contractual claims such as wrongful dismissal may also be raised in the event of a dismissal. Wrongful dismissal occurs when a term of the contract of employment has been breached
  • Summary dismissal is a dismissal without notice, due to, for example, gross misconduct. Usually if you admit to the reason for your dismissal, you do not have much recourse within the law since you have accepted the blame for your dismissal reason

Deciding whether to go to a tribunal

It is of huge commercial importance for employers to guard against these claims. Excessive litigation costs and compensation pay-outs can have a damaging effect on a business’s profits. Employers can take out legal expense insurance to help fund any court litigation, but the premiums can be expensive.

Another way to avoid excessive litigation costs is through negotiation. If, as an employer, you know the employee has a claim against you, it may be prudent to offer an out-of-court settlement. Another way is through hiring casual workers rather than taking on employees. Casual workers cannot bring any of the claims mentioned in this document.

If any of these types of dismissals is carried out in a way which is contrary to the law an employee may apply to an employment tribunal. Certain eligibility rules and time limits apply.

The type of remedy that an employee may seek varies depending upon the type of claim. The most common remedy for a successful claim is compensation; however other remedies such as re-employment or re-engagement may be appropriate in certain circumstances.

For more information on the procedure which must be adhered to when dismissing an employee, see our page on dismissal procedure.

Do you believe your dismissal was unlawful on one of the grounds discussed in this article? Contact Law works with a number of solicitors specialising in employment law and can recommend a specialist for your particular type of dismissal. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

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