EMPLOYMENT LAW FOR EMPLOYEES

Constructive Dismissal Legal Support

Atkins Dellow > HR and Employment > Employees > Constructive Dismissal

Constructive Dismissal Law Solicitors

As an employee, any form of dismissal can be a difficult challenge to navigate as you work through the emotions and the negotiations involved. Our team of expert employment lawyers are here to help.

Constructive dismissal is particularly tough to face. By its very nature, constructive dismissal is often catalysed by poor conduct on the part of an employer – leaving the employee with no choice but to leave their job.

If you’re facing a constructive dismissal situation, whether as a result of unfair treatment, bullying, harassment, discrimination or otherwise, you are likely to be feeling overwhelmed and concerned about making a bad situation worse.

In the wake of a constructive dismissal, ensuring a fair settlement from a former employer can be challenging.

We work on behalf of employees who may be unfamiliar with the options available to them – making sure that you get the best settlement whether through a process of negotiation at a tribunal.

Possible reasons behind a Constructive Dismissal

In its simplest form, constructive dismissal arises when the behaviour or actions of an employer, are such that they breach some term of the employee’s contract – leaving the employee feeling that they have no chance but to resign.

Reasons for constructive dismissal vary widely meaning that every case of constructive dismissal is different. Some of the most frequent include:

  • Not being paid the correct amount with no good reason given, on a regular and consistent basis
  • Bullying or unfair treatment in the workplace, at the hands of the employer, or by another employee with the employer’s knowledge.
  • Making unreasonable adjustments to the workplace or arrangements of the employee, without a fair reason and without adequate discussion

Harassment on the part of the employer or by another employee with the employer’s knowledge.

Advice and Legal Services for Employees

Before terminating your employment by reason of constructive dismissal we recommend expert advice on your situation to get an objective view and some guidance on your options. It is only by understanding the issue fully that we can help you to identify the best steps to take, whether that be taking the issue to HR on an informal basis as a first step, or skipping the internal processes and carrying the issue straight to an employment tribunal.

Typically the help and support we will give you when you’re facing constructive dismissal falls into the following areas:

  • Assessing your particular circumstances to determine whether treating yourself as constructively dismissed is the appropriate course of action for you;
  • Negotiating terms of settlement for constructive unfair dismissal with your employer;
  • Advising you on signing a formal settlement agreement;
  • Employment Tribunal representation if no pre-tribunal settlement can be reached and it is necessary for you to bring a claim in the tribunal.

The ambit of our role is as wide-raging and versatile as you need it to be. Our employment lawyers can represent either party directly, or act as mediator between the two to facilitate an agreement.

Constructive Dismissal FAQs

What are the correct steps to take as an employee during the constructive dismissal process?

In order to ensure that a resignation is successfully identified as a constructive unfair dismissal, it is crucial that you gather enough evidence to support your claim. We recommend seeking expert advice from an employment lawyer prior to resigning from your position, to ensure that you don’t miss anything crucial that could contribute towards your case.

What is constructive dismissal?

Constructive dismissal happens when an employer creates a work environment that is so unacceptable an employee is forced to resign involuntarily. The resignation is treated as a termination by the employer, and the employee may be entitled to legal remedies.

What might an employer do that could be considered constructive dismissal?

Things like: significant changes to job responsibilities; demotion without justification; reduction in salary or benefits without agreement; harassment or discrimination creating a hostile work environment; failing to address serious health and safety concerns, are all circumstances within an employer’s control which an employee may treat as a reason for constructive dismissal.

Can a single incident lead to a claim of constructive dismissal?

Every case is different and must be considered in its particular circumstances. In some situations a single incident may be a valid reason, or may be the ultimate incident which contributes to a claim of constructive dismissal. Typically constructive dismissal arises from a series of events or a pattern of behaviour that collectively create an intolerable work environment. It’s important to seek legal advice to determine the strength of your claim.

Do I need to exhaust internal grievance procedures before making a constructive dismissal claim?

In many situations it is advisable to exhaust internal grievance procedures, before making a claim. By following internal grievance procedures you demonstrate that you’ve taken reasonable steps to address and try to resolve the issue before resorting to legal action. Of course, there may be exceptions, depending on the circumstances, such as when the internal procedures are ineffective or if immediate resignation is necessary to protect your well-being.

Can I claim constructive dismissal if I voluntarily resigned?

In most cases, you resigning of your own volition is the direct cause of the employer’s actions which cause the constructive dismissal. To claim constructive dismissal it must be that you are resigning in direct response to your employer’s breach of contract or a fundamental change in employment conditions. It is vital to demonstrate that your resignation was a direct result of your employer’s actions and that you had no reasonable alternative but to resign.

Can I claim constructive dismissal if I was given a warning or disciplined?

It’s unlikely that disciplinary action or warnings alone will constitute constructive dismissal. This will very much depend on your specific situation. If a disciplinary action is unfair, unjustified, or disproportionate to the alleged misconduct, it could be a contributing factor in a constructive dismissal claim. Each situation must be assessed on its merits.

What remedies are available for constructive dismissal claims?

If a claim of constructive dismissal is successful, the remedies can include compensation for lost earnings, damages for breach of contract, and in some cases, reinstatement to the position or an equivalent role within the organisation. The specific remedies will depend on the circumstances of your case.

How long do I have to make a claim for constructive dismissal?

There are strict time limits for making a constructive dismissal claim in England and Wales. In most cases the time limit is 3 months less a day from either: the last day of your notice period; or, the day you resigned if you didn’t give notice to your employer. It’s always best to get advice for an employment lawyer promptly so that you understand and comply with the applicable time limits relevant to your situation.

What evidence do I need to support my claim of constructive dismissal?

It’s important to gather and document evidence that supports your case and strengthen your claim. Our employment law team will always be happy to speak with you at the earliest possible stage, ideally before you make a decision to resign, so that they can offer you as much guidance as you need on the specific evidence required should you wish to make a claim. We’ll often suggest: keeping a diary of events, noting down who says what to whom as precisely as you can, keeping copies of correspondence, emails, performance appraisals, witness statements, and any other relevant documentation that or demonstrates the employer’s actions or behaviour leading to your resignation.

Should I consult an employment lawyer for a constructive dismissal claim?

Yes – ideally speak with our employment law team before any dismissal, constructive otherwise. We’ll happily speak with you at the earliest stage – even if you’re just thinking through your options. Constructive dismissal is a tricky area of law and practice to navigate. We strongly recommend speaking with an experienced employment lawyer from the outset. Our employment law team will assess the strength of your case, guide you through the legal process, help you gather evidence, negotiate with your employer, and represent you in legal proceedings if necessary. The early input of this expertise will greatly increase your chances of achieving the best outcome for you.

Employment Law Specialists at Atkins Dellow

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