If you have left your employment as you feel you can no longer work for your employer, you may be able to bring a claim for constructive dismissal.
A constructive dismissal occurs when an employee resigns, as they feel they can no longer work for their employer, due to their employer’s conduct. Constructive dismissal does not cover instances where an employer dismisses an employee.
A constructive dismissal has occurred when the following are satisfied:
- your employer has committed a serious breach of contract;
- you felt forced to leave because of that breach; and
- you have not done anything to suggest that you have accepted their breach or a change in employment conditions.
The reasons you leave your job must be serious, for example:
- your employer has forced you to accept unreasonable changes to how you work;
- your employer has reduced your pay;
- you have been subject to discrimination at work for reasons of disability, race, age, sex, gender reassignment, religion or belief, marriage or civil partnership and sexual orientation; or
- excessive workload, to the point that it was causing damage to your health.
A breach of contract can be a direct breach of your contract of employment. It can also be a breach of an implied term of your contract; the most common is a breach of the mutual trust and confidence between an employer and employee.
If you are able to prove that you have been constructively dismissed, this will give rise to a claim for damages (compensation) for wrongful dismissal.
Was my dismissal unfair?
In addition to damages for wrongful dismissal, you may also be able to claim for damages in relation to unfair dismissal.
Usually it is only employees who have two years’ continuity of service that can claim unfair dismissal. There are exceptions to this, in certain circumstances a dismissal can automatically be deemed unfair. Examples of automatically unfair reasons for dismissal include pregnancy, acting as a trade union representative, whistleblowing, discrimination, acting as an employee representative and joining a trade union.
What should I do next?
If you are a member of a union, contact them for support. Alternatively, seek legal advice.
Please note that the time limits for bringing a constructive dismissal claim are strict. You should not delay seeking legal advice if you are considering bringing a claim.
The above article is a brief free guide and does not constitute a detailed explanation of the law.
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