For expert legal advice or immediate representation for constructive or unfair dismissal from work, call the employment solicitors at Slater and Gordon Lawyers on freephone 0808 175 8000 or contact us online and we will call you.

What is unfair dismissal?

Employers are allowed to dismiss people for a range of reasons, including for redundancy or capability, but the law does not permit them to do this unfairly, and many employees have protection from unfair dismissals. A dismissal is unfair under the law if it meets certain criteria.

For example, if you are sacked because of sex, age disability, gender, marital status, race, ethnicity or nationality, religion or your belief, sexuality or age, this will be discriminatory and unfair.

A sacking is also unlawful if it is for a reason that is ‘automatically unfair’. For instance, if you are dismissed because you:

  • have asked for your legal rights to be met (for example, to receive the minimum wage)
  • have reported your employer for wrongdoing (in other words, you are acting as a whistleblower)
  • are pregnant or are off work on maternity leave
  • are a member of a trade union and you took part in official industrial action, or you were acting as an employee representative
  • took action over a health and safety issue
  • in relation to certain business transfers.

In addition, your employer can be held liable for unfair dismissal if they don’t follow the relevant disciplinary or dismissal processes when they sack you.

Your employer is required to tell you why they are dismissing you, if you have worked for them for two years or more. This can be by email or letter.

In our experience, employers are not always entirely truthful about their reasons for sacking workers, so if you think the organisation you work for has not been honest with you about why you have been dismissed, it is important to get legal advice.

Can you make an unfair dismissal claim?

If your dismissal is either discriminatory or qualifies as ‘automatically unfair’, you may be entitled to unfair dismissal compensation. Bear in mind that you must be an employee in order to be eligible for this. For example, you won’t have the right to make a claim if you’re self-employed or an agency worker. Also, you must make your claim within three months less a day of the date you were dismissed, and you can usually only claim compensation if you have worked for your employer for a minimum of two years.

Our skilled and experienced employment lawyers at Slater and Gordon are on hand to advise you if you’re not sure whether you have a case for unfair dismissal.

What is constructive dismissal?

Constructive unfair dismissal, also known simply as constructive dismissal, is a particular type of unfair dismissal. The crucial difference is that in these cases, the employee resigns rather than being sacked.

If your employer has done something that qualifies as a serious breach of your contract and this causes you to resign, you may be able to make a constructive dismissal compensation claim. For example, you might have a case if you resigned because your employer:

  • did not take steps to stop people harassing or bullying you at work
  • demoted you for no reason
  • did not pay you
  • made unreasonable changes to your working conditions (for example, making you work longer hours)
  • failed to provide a safe working environment
  • did not provide you with the support you needed to perform your role
  • removed important benefits set out in your employment contract.

Can I claim constructive dismissal?

To make a constructive dismissal claim, you need to show that your employer committed a significant breach of your contract. And that you resigned in response to this breach. You must have worked for your employer for a minimum of two years as an employee.

Even if you believe you have a good case for constructive dismissal, it is important to think carefully before you resign from your role. Quitting your job is a big step and there may be less risky ways to resolve the problems you are having at work. Proving constructive dismissal can be difficult, so this is not a decision to take lightly.

Our expert solicitors can advise if you may be eligible to make a constructive dismissal compensation claim.

How much compensation can I claim for unfair or constructive dismissal?

If you have been dismissed from you job unfairly, you can claim compensation under two categories: a basic award and a compensatory award. The basic award is a fixed sum that is calculated according to the same statutory formula as statutory redundancy pay. The compensatory award provides you with a payout to cover the money you have foregone as a result of losing your role.

The basic award sum depends on how long you have worked for your employer, your age when you were dismissed and how much your weekly pay was before National Insurance and income tax was deducted from it. If you had worked for your employer for at least two years, you can expect:#

  • half a week’s pay for each year you were employed below the age of 22
  • one week’s pay for every year of employment when you were aged between 22 and 40
  • One and a half weeks’ pay for each year of employment when you were 41 or older.

But a week’s pay for the purposes of calculating this award is limited to a maximum of £489, so it will not necessarily be a real week’s pay for you and this is subject to change annually.

Your compensatory award takes into account your loss of income because of your sacking and the fact that it will take you two years in a new role to benefit from the right to claim unfair dismissal. Also, an employment tribunal can increase or decrease your compensatory payment for failure to follow internal workplace dispute resolution processes. If your employer didn’t follow the ACAS Code when dismissing you, your compensatory award can be increased by a quarter. Conversely, if you are found to have been partly responsible for your dismissal, they can reduce your payout.

There is now a cap on compensatory awards of £80,541*(Jan 18), and if you earn less than this sum, the limit you can expect is one year’s gross pay.

The solicitors at Slater and Gordon have been involved in a number of high-value dismissal cases, securing many millions of pounds in compensation for our clients. We can advise you of the value of your dismissal claim and help you to reach a favourable deal. We can also negotiate employment termination packages on your behalf and help structure these tax-efficiently.

Employment dismissal and your legal rights

Being dismissed from your role or feeling as though your employer has left you with no choice but to resign can be an extremely traumatic and confusing time. You may have understandable concerns about your finances, professional reputation and future career. In these circumstances, it can be very difficult to have a clear grasp of your rights and the actions you need to take in order to protect yourself and achieve the best outcome.

At Slater and Gordon, it is our goal to remove this uncertainty and to help our clients grasp their legal rights and take the appropriate next steps. As part of this, our employment law solicitors have prepared three free online Expert Guides to help you understand more about your legal rights. See Constructive Dismissal, Unfair Dismissal & Executive Dismissal.

In addition, our experts are available to answer your questions by phone or by online contact form, so if you have any questions or you would like further information on these legal areas, get in touch today.

How can Slater and Gordon help you?

Our clients often find themselves in very different circumstances when it comes to dismissal from work, with some amicable and others highly acrimonious situations. Our team are here to guide you through this potentially difficult and stressful time, helping you protect your interests and stand up for your rights. All of our clients, from partners and high-ranking senior executives to junior members of staff, receive the highest levels of care and attention.

In all cases of unfair or constructive dismissal, we advance our clients’ interests while providing a personal, thorough and cost-effective service. While we are best-known for our high-profile employment litigation cases, we resolve most cases by achieving favourable outcomes through negotiated settlements. In many cases, this removes the need for employment tribunals, helping to lower costs, speed up compensation claims and reduce stress and anxiety. This is all part of our aim to keep costs as manageable as possible for our clients.

Our employment law services cover the full spectrum of unfair and constructive dismissal cases. So if you have been dismissed from your job in unfair circumstances, our team can help. We will consider the reasons your employer had for sacking you and the process that they followed in order to achieve this. Based on what we discover, we will advise you on your legal rights, how you may be able to challenge the dismissal and the level of compensation you may be able to claim, whether this is through an employment tribunal or an out-of-court settlement.

Perhaps you need legal advice and guidance in situations where the treatment you have experienced from your employer makes it impossible for you to continue in employment, leaving you with no option but to resign. You can count on our expertise in these complex cases.

Our employment solicitors also offer support and guidance if you find you have been unfairly dismissed from work as a result of improper handling of redundancy by your employer, or because your employer has transferred your business unit to another entity and not fully played by the rules. Alternatively, if you have been sacked for a fair reason, but your employer has not complied with its contractual obligations to you, for example in not paying you for your full notice period, we can help.

Whatever you individual circumstances, we are here to offer a professional and sensitive service. If you are called to attend an employment disciplinary or dismissal hearing, we can advise you throughout the process. We can also arrange for representation at the disciplinary, dismissal or appeal hearings through our specialist Executive Reps service, providing a representative to accompany you.

Expert legal advice is just one freephone call away, so don’t hesitate to call us on 0808 175 8000 or contact us online.

No. 1 ranked employment law firm

Highlighting our credentials, we are the number one ranked employment law firm for individuals in Chambers & Partners. In addition, the employment solicitors at Slater and Gordon UK are members of the Employment Lawyers Association.

We are also one of the UK's largest and most well-known law firms. We have offices in towns and cities across the country, including London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Cardiff, Cambridge, Preston, and Watford.

So, when you come to us for help with unfair and constructive dismissal claims, you know you are benefiting from reliable, high-quality advice, information and support.