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2 Employment - updated version available December '16

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1. Introduction

2. Do I need a contract of employment?

3. Do I have the right to work in the UK?

4. What is the least I should be paid?

5. How many hours can my employer make me work?

6. Does my employer have to recognise my trade union?

7. What if I've been dismissed unfairly?

8. Bringing a statutory claim for unfair dismissal

9. What if I've been made redundant?

10. Bringing a contractual claim for wrongful dismissal

If you are dismissed without your employer giving you the notice that is in your contract, and they have no good reason for dismissing you without giving notice, you will be entitled to damages (compensation).

The amount of damages will be the same as the net (after-tax) salary and fringe benefits (such as the use of a car, or pension contributions) which you would have received during your notice period.

If you don't have a written contract of employment, you will be able to claim at least the statutory minimum period of notice (the period set down in law). This depends how long you have worked for your employer, and is:

  • no notice during the first month;
  • one week during the first two years; or
  • one week for each year you have worked after that, up to a maximum of 12 weeks.

However, you may be able to argue for a longer period of notice based on what is 'reasonable' in the business or profession you work in. For example, if colleagues employed at the same grade or level would normally get three months' notice, you would have a good reason for claiming the same.

The amount of damages you can claim depends on how much notice you are entitled to. But if you are dismissed, you must try to reduce your losses by looking for (and taking) an acceptable and suitable new job.

How do I bring a claim?
You do not have to have worked for your employer for a certain length of time to bring a contractual claim for wrongful dismissal. There are two ways to make a claim:

  • at an employment tribunal; or
  • in the county court or high court.

If you want to make a claim for breach of contract (wrongful dismissal) at an employment tribunal, you must send an ET1 form within three months of when you were dismissed. The tribunal wil not consider your case if you do not use the correct ET1 form or you do not provide all the information the tribunal needs. 

The most an employment tribunal can award is £25,000. For more about how to bring a claim at an employment tribunal, see 'How do I bring a claim?'.

If you want to claim more than £25,000, you must make a claim in the county court or high court. The time limit for bringing such a claim is six years. You should seek legal advice if you want to bring such a claim.

If, when you are dismissed or resign, your employer owes you other money (such as unpaid wages or holiday pay) then you can also claim for this in the employment tribunal.

11. What if I've been discriminated against?

12. What are my rights if I work part-time?

13. What are my rights if I'm having a baby?

14. Can I take leave as a new Father?

15. What are my rights if I'm adopting a child?

16. What other leave can I get after my child is born or adopted?

17. Can I change my working arrangements if I have children?

18. Can I take time off if I am someone's carer?

19. Further Help

20. About this leaflet







This leaflet is published by the Legal Services Commission (LSC). It was written in association with Ian Hunter, Head of the Employment Department, Bird & Bird, Solicitors.

The leaflets are regularly updated but the law may have changed since they were printed so the information in them may be incorrect or out of date.

Leaflet Version: January 2019




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