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Constructive dismissal


This article explains constructive dismissal and sets out the many pitfalls which tend to thwart employees who want to make a claim for constructive dismissal. You might want to get a rough idea of the value of your case by filling in the Settlement Agreements Calculator.

Top 3 TIPS

  1. Consider raising a grievance
  2. Give your employer a chance to change their ways
  3. Resign as soon as its clear that they won’t budge

2 year qualifying period

In order to make a claim for constructive unfair dismissal in the employment tribunal, you need to have worked for your employer for at least 2 years.

If you have less then 2 years under your belt, unfortunately it means that it is very easy for your employer to dismiss you or constructively dismiss you (even if it feels blatantly unfair) and get away with it.

The other types of claim which employees can bring, even if they have been employed for less than 2 years, include whistleblowing (if you have revealed malpractice and they have victimised you for that) or discrimination (for example sex, disability, race, pregnancy and other types).


Constructive dismissal compensation

Compensation for successful constructive dismissal claims is worked out in exactly the same way as compensation for unfair dismissal claims. It is essentially the amount of money you lost because you were out of work after you had to leave. There is now a cap of one year’s salary of 75,000 pounds, whichever is greater. You will also need to keep detailed records of your efforts to find a job in the mean time.

What is constructive dismissal

Constructive dismissal is a certain type of unfair dismissal, the difference being that in constructive dismissal the employee resigns, or leaves voluntarily, rather than being formally dismissed by their employer. The full name for constructive dismissal is actually constructive unfair dismissal.

It can be very difficult to prove because employment tribunals believe that it is only in extreme circumstances that someone feels forced to leave employment. The classic extreme example is not being paid your wages, or being physically assaulted. There are so many permutations but they all involved having your working life made so difficult that you feel no option but to leave.


Evidence needed for constructive dismissal claims

Unfortunately only 5% of claims of constructive dismissal succeed in the employment tribunal. The main reason is that tribunals decide that there is insufficient evidence that the employer’s conduct was so bad that leaving was the only option (instead of, for example, submitting a grievance). So, if your employer puts you on a performance improvement plan, for example, this is not an excuse to quit. Stick it out!

Another big killer of constructive dismissal claims is whereby the employment tribunal deems the employee to have ‘accepted’ the employer’s misconduct. In practice this means that you left it too late to quit, and by so doing you tacitly accepted the mistreatment. So it may be that swift action on your part is required, but at the same time don’t be rash.

As you probably know, often employers try to manage out employees in order to avoid having to pay them off with a settlement agreement. A manager could be told to put an employee on performance review or to discipline them over a trivial matter. It is surprising how even big corporations employ these kinds of underhand tactics in order to avoid their responsibilities towards their employees. The difficulty however, is proving it.


Taking professional advice

We’re not just saying this but if you are thinking about resigning, please please get in touch with us first. This is probably making more work for ourselves than we want because most constructive dismissal cases are difficult to win, and we may well have to turn you away. We have become experts however at guiding you through the pitfalls and helping you to achieve a situation whereby your employer prefers to offer you a settlement agreement rather than dismissing you or you resigning. Every case is different but there are enough common themes for us to be able to tell quickly if we can help you. Have a look at our Testimonials to see how others in your situation were helped on their journey.

If you want to get your constructive dismissal situation spot on or if you have any other settlement agreement query, including how to get representation at no up front cost, email us on [email protected], call us 0800 533 5134 or 020 7717 5259, or simply request a call from one of our specialist lawyers.

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