What is constructive dismissal?
Constructive dismissal is the situation in which an employee feels they have no choice but to resign from their job due to the conduct of their employer’s behaviour. In these cases the employer breaches the employment contract usually by doing any of the following:
- Forcing the employee to accept and adapt to an unreasonable or significant change of work environment, e.g working night shifts instead of day shifts or working in a different location without prior agreement
- Refusing to pay the employee or reducing their pay for no reason
- Demotion for no reason
- Failing to keep the working environment safe for the employee
- Threatening to breach contract, e.g threats of demotion or decreased pay
- Allowing other employees to harass or bully you
In order for a constructive dismissal claim to arise, the breach to the contract must be serious and the employee must resign as soon as possible, as the employer could argue (in the tribunal or elsewhere) that the delay meant the employee accepted the new conditions of the job.
What happens when the employee decides they want to resign?
The employee usually sends a constructive dismissal resignation letter that outlines the reasons as to why they are resigning. It signals the intention to bring a constructive dismissal claim against the employer. The reasons for resignation may include either of the following:
- Fundamental breach of contract; a direct breach of the employer’s responsibilities towards the employee as set out in the employment contract
- Anticipated breach of contract; an action that signals the employer’s intention to breach the contract, such as threats
- A breach of trust caused by the employer damaging the career prospects or reputation of the employee
- A series of breaches of contracts; the string of actions that lead to the employee resigning
Can all employees bring a case of constructive dismissal?
Unless the resignation was due to discrimination of some kind, employees have to have been employed by the employer for at least 2 years. If they have been working for the employer for less than 2 years and their resignation was not due to discrimination, they cannot make a claim.
How much can I be awarded if my claim for constructive dismissal succeeds?
Constructive dismissal payouts are not cheap for the employer – the maximum statutory amount that can be awarded is £83,682 or 52 weeks gross salary, whichever is the lower amount. If an employee earns in excess of that statutory cap they cannot claim more than the maximum.
How can NA Law help?
With specialist employment law advice we can help you guide you through the entire procedure whilst informing you of all legal options available to you. Whether you are an employer dealing with a constructive dismissal resignation or employee seeking to bring a case of constructive dismissal, NA Law can help you mediate through even the most complex issues in the workplace.