Fired? - Constructive Dismissal

Constructive dismissal is an unusual type of employment claim. An employee will have a constructive dismissal claim if they can show that they felt forced to quit their job because of the behaviour of their employer.

Everyone will occasionally experience frustration or stress at work, and they may place the blame with their employer. However, this will not be a sufficient reason to claim constructive dismissal.

In order to claim constructive dismissal, an employee must have felt they had no other choice but to resign because their employer’s behaviour was such a serious breach of the employment contract.

Employment law will treat the employee’s resignation as a dismissal so that they are able to claim unfair dismissal in an Employment Tribunal.

Claiming constructive dismissal

In order to claim constructive dismissal, you will need to be able to show three things:

  • A serious breach of contract by your employer
  • You felt forced to resign from your job
  • You did not accept the breach of contract

Employer’s serious breach of contract

There are a number of things your employer can do that could be regarded as a serious breach of contract. They include:

  • Making unreasonable changes to your conditions of employment, for example changing your working hours or requiring you to work in a different location
  • Subjecting you to excessive discipline
  • Bullying or harassing you
  • Allowing you to be bullied or harassed by your colleagues
  • Not providing you with support in difficult situations
  • Humiliating you in front of other employees
  • Falsely accusing you of misconduct or poor performance
  • Forcing you to work in dangerous conditions
  • Not paying you
  • Demoting you without good reason

You can claim constructive dismissal based on one of these incidents or on the basis of a build-up of several incidents. However, you cannot wait too long to resign and bring your claim, as your employer may be able to argue that you accepted the breach of contract.

Complicated area of employment law

Constructive dismissal is not straightforward. In order to show you have a claim for constructive dismissal, you must not have accepted your employer’s breach of contract.

This can be difficult to prove in an Employment Tribunal. If you are currently unhappy with the conduct of your employer, you should raise the issue with them in writing. You should keep a copy of your letter and their responses.

Your employer should have a formal grievance procedure that you can use to make your complaint. If the issue is not resolved after the grievance procedure is exhausted, you may want to think about quitting and claiming constructive dismissal.

It is important to speak to an employment solicitor before you quit so you know whether or not you will actually have a constructive dismissal claim against your employer if you do leave. An employment solicitor will listen to your employment complaints and will be able to advise you on what to do next.

It is equally important not to wait too long before speaking to a solicitor as your employer may be able to argue that you have accepted their breach of contract. This would mean you could not prove your resignation was actually an unfair dismissal.

Job Justice can help

If you are currently employed in a job and you no longer feel you can continue to work there because of the behaviour of your employer, you are advised to speak to an employment solicitor as soon as possible.

The balance between ensuring you have a claim before you quit and not waiting too long before you leave is a difficult one to achieve. Therefore, it is important to speak to a specialist solicitor as soon as you think you may have a constructive dismissal claim.

We can put you in touch with one of our specialist employment solicitors. Simply call us for free on 0800 533 5799 or fill in our online contact form and we’ll be in touch to discuss your situation.

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