1. Overview

Dismissal is when you end an employee’s contract. When dismissing staff, you must do it fairly.

There are different types of dismissal:

  • fair dismissal
  • unfair dismissal
  • constructive dismissal
  • wrongful dismissal

Fair and unfair dismissal

A dismissal is fair or unfair depending on:

  • your reason for it
  • how you act during the dismissal process

Constructive dismissal

This is when an employee resigns because you’ve breached their employment contract. This could be a single serious event or a series of less serious events.

An employee could claim constructive dismissal if you:

  • cut their wages without agreement
  • unlawfully demote them
  • allow them to be harassed, bullied or discriminated against
  • unfairly increase their workload
  • change the location of their workplace at short notice
  • make them work in dangerous conditions

A constructive dismissal isn’t necessarily unfair - but it would be difficult for you to show that a breach of contract was fair.

A constructive dismissal might lead to a claim for wrongful dismissal.

Wrongful dismissal

This is where you break the terms of an employee’s contract in the dismissal process, eg dismissing someone without giving them proper notice.

Wrongful dismissal isn’t the same as unfair dismissal.

If an employee thinks you’ve dismissed them unfairly, constructively or wrongfully, they might take you to an employment tribunal.

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