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Workplace dismissals: the three main types

If you have been dismissed from work and believe this was unfair, wrongful, or you felt you had no choice but to leave, then you may be protected legally and could attempt to claim compensation. Remember, however, that taking any case such as these to tribunal can be a costly and time-consuming affair, so always consider carefully whether you wish to pursue a claim and get as much information and advice as possible before doing so.

There are three main types of workplace dismissal: constructive, unfair, and wrongful. We will give a little more detail on each of these below so you can see if any may apply to your circumstances. In each of the below, you are required to have been working at your place of employment for a minimum of 2 years in order to be legally protected. The exception to this is automatically unfair dismissal, which covers situations for which you should never be dismissed, such as pregnancy, maternity, paternity and joining a trade union. If, after reading, you need further advice, you could contact Employment Law Friend or a similar expert for additional information and the chance to talk your situation through with experienced professionals.

Constructive dismissal

This applies when your employer has evidently breached the terms of your working contract, or behaved in such a way as to undermine your confidence and trust in that contract. A constructive dismissal claim may be made when an employee leaves their place of work for these reasons, rather than being fired or made redundant from their role. Examples of an employer breaching contract include refusing to pay you or suddenly changing your job role.

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This law is also in place to protect employees from workplace harassment and bullying that an employer does not address or have adequate procedures in place to deal with, so that you do not remain working in such an environment. Remember, always indicate you are working ‘under protest’ or cease work as soon as possible in such circumstances, as continuing to work can be considered an acceptance of the new conditions.

Unfair dismissal

This refers to an employer firing or making redundant an employee without good reason, or for reasons that can be considered unfair. As we mentioned above, certain reasons are considered ‘automatically unfair’ by law and apply even if you have not worked for an employer for the minimum of 2 years to make a claim. These include your statutory rights, such as paid leave, minimum breaks and maximum working hours and situations where you have been dismissed on discriminatory grounds.

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Wrongful dismissal

Unlike the two situations above, this term more specifically refers to an employer failing to follow the correct procedure for dismissal, even in circumstances where their reasons for doing so may be justified. If an employer does not follow their own procedures for disciplinaries and dismissals, or fails to meet the minimum requirements that are set out by the ACAS code of practice¬†then you may be able to make a claim for wrongful dismissal. Bear in mind that, if you’re consider making a claim, ACAS will encourage early conciliation to avoid the lengthy and often costly process of going to tribunal.

As you can see from the above, there are various ways in which the law is designed to protect employees from unjustified dismissal or continuing to work in unsafe working conditions. However, many of these do not apply without a contract in place, so you should request a written contract that defines the basic expectations between you and your employer to protect you where possible.

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