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Breach of Employment Contract

Breaches of contract can present many challenges for employers, whatever sector they are operating in. Having the support of an expert team of employment lawyers in advance of any potentially contentious discussions relating to the conduct of an employee, or steps that you have taken as their employer, can be hugely beneficial.

The specialist employment lawyers at Wilford Smith regularly advise a diverse range of employers based throughout England and Wales on issues concerning breaches of employment contracts and other contentious employment matters. Get in touch today to find out how we can help.

What is an employment contract?

An employment contract is a legally binding agreement between you and your employee. It will usually be in written form, but verbal contracts are also legally binding, although they can be more difficult to enforce if disputes arise as it is harder to determine the nature of the agreed terms.

Employment contracts contain express and implied terms, which can include:

  • Express terms such as working hours and rates of pay
  • Terms implied by statute such as the right to the national minimum wage and statutory notice period
  • Rights implied by common law – for employees, this includes a duty to act faithfully, while for employers this consists of a duty to act fairly
  • Terms that are implied by custom and practice

What is considered a breach of an employment contract?

Both employer and employee can breach a contract of employment. Either party may sue the other if losses result from the breach of contract. An employment contract may be breached in the following ways:

  • The conduct of the employer breaches a term that is fundamental to the employment contract – this allows an employee to claim constructive dismissal
  • The employee's behaviour is such that it breaches the terms of the employment contract – this enables the employer to dismiss the employee for gross misconduct
  • The employee is dismissed without notice, pay in lieu of notice or breaches another term of the contract
  • The employee breaches restrictive covenants, – a typical example is where an employee poaches an employer or ex-employer's client after the termination of their employment
  • The employee resigns without giving the notice specified in their contract

What is gross misconduct?

Gross misconduct is deliberate wrongdoing or gross negligence on the part of an employee. This is behaviour that is so serious that it fundamentally undermines the relationship of trust and confidence that must exist between an employer and their employee. Gross misconduct gives the employer the right to dismiss the employee without notice.  This is known as summary dismissal.

Contact our Breach of Employment Contract Solicitors

The employment solicitors at Wilford Smith have the skills, knowledge and determination to achieve the right outcome for you and a comprehensive understanding of the corporate and commercial landscapes. As well as taking instruction from clients based in the UK, we also have extensive experience acting in cases that have an international or cross-jurisdictional component. Whatever the nature of your dispute, our employment lawyers can provide clear, pragmatic support to ensure your interests and reputation are protected.

To speak to one of our employment solicitors contact our employment team on 0808 164 1349 or complete our online contact form and we will get back to you.

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2022 Wilford Smith is the trading name of WS Strategic Ltd. a limited company registered in England and Wales, registration number 07777022. Registered office – Meadowhall Business Park, Sheffield S9 2EQ. We are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. SRA Registration Number 640898.