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Constructive Dismissal Claims

If you have experienced unfair treatment from your employer that led directly to your resignation, you may be eligible to make a claim for constructive dismissal.

However, constructive dismissal claims will only be accepted by the employment tribunal if you meet the specific requirements set out in the Employment Rights Act 1996.

What is Constructive Dismissal?

Constructive dismissal refers to a situation in which an employer breaches the terms of an employee’s contract or UK employment regulation, placing the employee in such a difficult position that they feel like they have no choice but to resign.

These breaches can refer to both the implied and expressed terms in the employment contract and include such factors as workplace safety and the right to minimum wage.

Example of a Constructive Dismissal

An employer might change the working hours or duties of a staff member with the deliberate intention of forcing them to quit. This would be classed as a breach of contract.

The employer changed the terms in the employment contract without the consent of the employee.

Employer Behaviour leading to Constructive Dismissal Claims

If an employer fails to abide by the terms set out in the contract or changes them without consent leading to an employees resignation there is likely a case of constructive dismissal.

Below examples of employer behaviour could lead to such claims:

  • Demoting staff without reason
  • Unjustified reduction of working hours
  • Refusal of company benefits
  • Failure to address complaints or grievances, especially in regards to how an employee is treated
  • Forcing an employee to relocate or travel without warning
  • Paying staff less than what was agreed or changing their duties

Reporting a Grievance with your Employer

When an incident occurs, you should always attempt to address it with your employer first through the official channels set out in the company’s grievance procedure.

By doing so you are able to collect evidence for any potential later tribunal claims.

How you Benefit from using your Grievance Procedure

Although failing to file a grievance with your employer prior to resigning will not affect the validity of your claim, it could reduce your compensation award by up to 25 percent.

The employment tribunal will recognise a grievance as an attempt to amicably resolve the issue before allowing it to spiral, which generally will work in your favour.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do I have an eligible claim for constructive dismissal?

    In order to file a constructive dismissal claim you must have been working for the employer for two continuous years and your resignation must have occurred as a direct result of your employer’s actions.

    Some cases are exempt from the two-year qualifying period, such as cases involving harassment or discrimination.

    Time limits for making a claim

    In most cases you need to put your claim forward within three months of your resignation from the company.

    Continuing to work for your employer after they have breached your contract would be known as ‘affirming your breach’ and means you can no longer pursue a claim. 

    You must have formally resigned before starting the claims process and a copy of your resignation letter should be kept as proof.

    A large number of claims for constructive dismissal that fail, fail as a result of the employee continuing their employment with the company after the breach of contract.

  • Why should I seek legal advice?

    Pursuing legal action against your employer can be complex and nerve-wracking. 

    You should always seek professional support before filing a claim with an employment tribunal, regardless of what you are claiming for.

    As our employment law solicitors operate on a no-win-no-fee basis you will not pay a penny unless you win.

    Providing evidence to support your claim

    Constructive dismissal cases require you to provide evidence of your employers wrongdoing, which can be hard to do.

    You need to consider which evidence you can provide and what evidence your previous employer is likely to provide in their defence.

    An employment law solicitor can guide you through the process and help you estimate your chances of success when taking your claim forward.

  • What amount of compensation should I expect to receive?

    Generally speaking, compensation awarded for successful constructive dismissal claims is calculated in the same way as unfair dismissal claims and is based on the wages and benefits you will likely lose as a result of your constructive dismissal.

    Each case is different and will be judged on its individual merits, so we will do everything in our power to secure you the maximum compensatory amount.

    The maximum compensatory award in the UK currently stands at £83,682.

Gathering Evidence for your Constructive Dismissal Claim

As with any type of claim, it will always be in your best interest to gather as much evidence as possible.

This evidence should prove how your employer has breached your contract or acted in an unfair way.

This could include emails or printed letters or even notes from meetings.

Documents that can Support your Claim

Grievance procedures are required to be fully documented, so if you have attempted to handle the issue by filing a grievance prior to your resignation you can use the paperwork of the grievance process to prove your intent to resolve the issue amicably.

It can also prove your reason for filing your resignation if your grievance wasn’t dealt with effectively.

Your letter of resignation and any further response to this will be further help.

Ensure Safe Storage for your Evidence

Make sure the documents and evidence you require are saved in a safe space that you can still access after you have left the company.

Company email addresses, email archives and documents saved on your work station can be deleted by your employer when you leave to make room for new employees, so always keep copies.

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