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Constructive Dismissal

Constructive dismissal is where an employee is forced to resign or feels pressurised into leaving work as a consequence of unacceptable behaviour on the part of their employer. In such circumstances an employee may be able to claim constructive dismissal if they can show the following:

  • Their employer has committed a serious breach of their employment contract
  • They felt forced to leave because of that breach
  • They did not accept the breach nor have done anything that could be construed as acceptance of the breach

Examples of serious breach of employment contract may include:

  • Non payment of salary
  • Demotion to a lesser role for no reason
  • Changing their job description without their agreement
  • Forcing them to accept unreasonable changes to their conditions of employment without their agreement such as a change in working hours, introduction of night shift or a sudden change in
  • location of work
  • Bullying harassment or violence against them by work colleagues
  • Making them work in dangerous conditions
  • Unreasonable disciplining of the employee
  • Seriously breaching the duty of ‘mutual trust and confidence’ which is implied into all employment contracts. For example, accusations of theft without evidence or use of foul and abusive language by a senior manager.

A claim for constructive dismissal can be made as a consequence of a single fundamentally serious breach or alternatively as a result of a series of smaller incidents, with the most recent incident being regarded as the ’final straw’.

It is important that, if faced with a grievance which suggests the employee considers they are being constructively dismissed, you deal thoroughly with their complaints and follow a fair procedure. Failure to do this could see an uplift in the amount of compensation awarded, by up to 25%.

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