Constructive Dismissal: A Guide

Posted by Michelle Morgan

17-08-2018

If you think you’re the victim of constructive dismissal, then you’re in the right place. Michelle Morgan, Senior Associate in our Employment team in the Maidenhead office has put together a guide to tell you exactly what constructive dismissal is, and how you can deal with the consequences of what can be a very stressful situation.

What is Constructive Dismissal?

Put simply; this is when an employee is forced to leave their job because of their employer’s behaviour. There’s a list of issues that could qualify as bad behaviour, but you need to know exactly what could be regarded as contributing to constructive dismissal, and what doesn’t.

Who Can Claim Constructive Dismissal?

Employees who have served under the same employer for two years’ or more can make a constructive dismissal claim. This two-year timeline includes your statutory notice period.

The Explanation for Leaving Needs to be Serious

If you’ve been forced to leave your job due to any of the following reasons, you might be experiencing constructive dismissal:

In some cases, your employer might have broken your employment contract with a series of incidents that when viewed together, make things more serious. Out of all the above options, this is the most difficult to prove. To make a successful claim, you will need to provide evidence of a specific breach of contract. For example, threatening text messages, samples of your completed work, bank statements reflecting your change in pay, etc. So, before you think about bringing a constructive dismissal case, make sure you have the evidence to back your claim up.

What Constitutes a Fair Change in Work?

Your employer’s entitled to make reasonable changes to your work. For example:

If You Have a Claim, What Should You Do?

Firstly, try and resolve any issues by courteously speaking to your employer. A simple discussion with your line manager might be all that is needed to put things straight. If there’s no improvement, and you firmly believe that you’ve got grounds for a constructive dismissal case, you ought to take legal advice before leaving your job; which is ultimately what you might be advised to do. Unfortunately, if you stay and put up with your ill-treatment, your employer can argue you accepted their offensive conduct.

Don’t Forget Discrimination

Discrimination can occasionally play a role in this kind of claim. This also constitutes an irreparable break in your employment contract. If you believe your mistreatment stems from one or more of the following, it might fall under the term, ‘discrimination’:

The two-year limit doesn’t apply to employees who are victims of discrimination.

Is it Worth Making a Claim?

Put simply, it all depends. Stereotypically, constructive dismissal claims are hard to prove. This makes them very tricky to win. When it comes to analysing whether it’s worth going to tribunal, weigh up how much money you’ll get if you win; this is usually a good indicator of whether the process is worth your time and effort. We can assist with this calculation; as well as advising you of your prospects of success.

If you think that you might have a constructive dismissal claim, please contact Michelle Morgan, Senior Associate in the Employment team in the Maidenhead office.


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