Constructive dismissal


What is constructive dismissal?

Constructive dismissal is a form of unfair dismissal. It occurs when an employee resigns because of a serious breach of contract by their employer, which makes it impossible for the employee to continue working for them.

In other words, the employee feels they have no other choice but to resign because of the behaviour of their employer.

The treatment you have received from your employer must, however, be so serious that you can say it goes to the root of your employment contract. It is a complex area of employment law and can be tricky to prove.

The circumstances

You may have a constructive dismissal claim if:

  • Your employer has committed a serious breach of your employment contract
  • You have not accepted the breach
  • You felt forced to resign, or are thinking about resigning, because of the breach

Examples of serious breaches which may constitute constructive dismissal include:

  • A serious breach of your contract (e.g. not paying you)
  • Forcing you to accept unreasonable changes to your conditions of employment without your agreement
  • Bullying, harassment or violence against you by work colleagues
  • Making you work in dangerous conditions
  • Falsely accusing an employee of misconduct such as theft or of being incapable of carrying out their job
  • Excessive disciplining of employees

It may have been one serious incident or a build-up of a number of incidents. However, you generally must have resigned soon after the incident in order to be able to rely upon it.

Time limits

To bring a claim for constructive dismissal claim you must have been working with your employer for two years. Continuous employment normally means working for an employer without a break in employment. When calculating a period of two years, a month means a calendar month and two years means twenty-four calendar months.

To claim for constructive dismissal, UK law requires the claimant to launch their claim within three months of resigning. However, there are some exceptions to this rule in certain circumstances. Generally speaking though, you should bring a claim as soon as practicable.

If this sounds like your situation you should get some constructive dismissal advice from a specialist solicitor. You may be able to negotiate with your employer, or you may consider making a constructive dismissal claim at an employment tribunal.

Think you know all there is to know about unfair dismissal? Take our quiz.

Are thinking about resigning from your job, or have you already resigned and are thinking of bringing a claim for constructive dismissal? Contact Law works with specialist employment lawyers who can represent your case and increase your chances of a successful outcome. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

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