What is constructive dismissal and how does it apply to me as an employee?
In employment law, constructive dismissal is where the employee leaves their job due to their employer's behaviour, and this may be because your employer has made your life tough and you feel that you cannot remain in your job. When this happens, employment law treats your resignation as an actual dismissal by your employer, this, in turn, allows you as the employee to claim for unfair dismissal.
To make a claim for constructive dismissal, you must have been with your employer for two consecutive years (if your employment commenced after 1st April 2012). Continuous employment refers to a period that you have spent with your company without any breaks, this time limit used to be limited to one year but was increased at the beginning of April 2012 as a part of the Coalition Governments’ changes to employment law.
Claim for Constructive Dismissal
Essentially, you may be able to successfully claim for constructive dismissal if:
- Your employer has violated a substantial term of your employment contract, which you the employee has not accepted
- Following the breach, you felt compelled to resign
Examples of constructive dismissal include:
- Not supporting managers in difficult work situations
- Harassing or humiliating staff, particularly in front of other less senior staff
- Victimising or targeting particular members of staff
- Changing the employee's job content or terms without consultation
- Making a significant change in the employee's job location at short notice
- Falsely accusing the employee of misconduct, such as theft or of being incapable of carrying out their job
- Excessive demotion or disciplining of employees
As an employee, you can resign over one serious incident or due to the build-up of a number of incidents. However, you must resign soon after the incident to be able to rely upon it. The general rule is that you must file a claim within three months of resigning, although there are some exceptions.
It should be noted that being constructively dismissed only proves that the employee was dismissed; it does not automatically show that the dismissal was unfair. As the employee, you have to go on and prove that the dismissal was unfair.
However, there are some instances where dismissal is automatically considered as unfair, such as:
- Denying maternity leave
- Discriminating against employees
- Unfair selection for redundancy
- Failing to give minimum notice
If you believe that you have a claim, it is important to get advice from an employment solicitor specialising in the field of employment law. The laws governing issues of employment law are complex and overlap with many other areas of law. The specialist knowledge of a job law solicitor is vital in pursuing a claim.