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Constructive dismissal

Constructive dismissal is where an employee resigns in response to their employer’s conduct or behaviour. The employer’s conduct must be so serious that it allows the employee to end their employment relationship with the employer immediately. In the appropriate circumstances such a resignation is deemed to be a dismissal.

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How serious does the employer’s conduct need to be?

The employer’s conduct must amount to a serious breach of a term within the contract of employment. This could either be an express term (a term actually written in the contract) or an implied term (incorporated into the contract by law, without the need for it to be written in the contract).

For example, if an employer suddenly cut an employee’s hours or wages with no prior discussion or agreement, and this was in breach of the contractual terms, the employee may be able to resign and claim constructive dismissal.

Alternatively, if an employee was continuously bullied or undermined at work, and they resign in response, they may have a valid claim for constructive dismissal.

For a constructive dismissal claim to succeed, the employee will need to show that they did not delay in resigning following the incident that has caused them to resign. If the employee continues to work for any length of time without resigning,  they could lose their right to treat the contract as breached and could be deemed to have chosen to accept the changed in terms of their employment or not deemed the employer’s behaviour to end the employment relationship.

Often it is a good idea for employees who feel they may be in a constructive dismissal situation to raise a formal grievance so that their employer has a chance to address the issues raised.

Please note that you must bring most employment tribunal claims no later than three months from the date of dismissal so do not delay in seeking advice!

For business law advice call 0845 225 2635

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