What is Constructive Dismissal?

Everyone has heard of constructive dismissal, but what does it actually mean? When can you claim that you were constructively dismissed?

Constructive dismissal happens when your employer breaches a fundamental term of your employment contract which entitles you to resign. In such circumstances you say you were dismissed (even though you resigned).

Your employers breach must be serious enough to justify you resigning. You cannot treat a trivial breach as sufficient reason to resign. It can be breach of an express contract term or a breach of the implied term of trust and confidence which has to exist between you and your employer. For example your employer could force you to work in breach of health and safety laws or could demote you without any good reason. The most obvious breach would be failing to pay your wages or cutting your pay without your agreement. Other examples could include you being bullied or victimised or your employer refusing to make reasonable adjustments because of a disability.

Constructive dismissal is not easy to prove and the burden is on you to prove it. You must prove that you resigned because of your employer’s breach and not because of some other reason. You must resign promptly otherwise you may be taken to have accepted the breach of contract by continuing to work.

Some times it may be a whole series of acts which leads you to resign when one such act becomes “the last straw”.

If you are going to resign and claim constructive dismissal a top tip would be to make sure you say so in your resignation letter so that there can be no doubt later about the reason you resigned.

Resigning and claiming constructive dismissal is a big step to take and you should always think about getting legal advice before you resign. You should also remember that in most cases you need to have been employed by your employer for 2 years before you can take a constructive dismissal claim to an Employment Tribunal. 

If you would like to speak to someone about employment law then please contact Chris Macwilliam on 0161 764 5266 or send a message through our contact us form on the website and someone will call you back as soon as possible.