Constructive Dismissal Claims Solicitors
Legal advice for Employees in London & all over the UK
Constructive Dismissal - Guide for Employees
A ‘constructive dismissal’ may arise if there is a fundamental or repudiatory breach of your employment contract by your employer. If you have resigned or are considering resigning because your continued employment is untenable for one or many reasons, it may apply to you. Are you are being side-lined, demoted or badly treated at work? Perhaps you are made to work in unsafe conditions or are being discriminated against. This can be a hurtful and distressing time for you and you might feel like resigning. Be cautious if considering this – especially if you want to be able to claim constructive dismissal afterwards.
Constructive dismissal claims are difficult to win and you should engage expert legal counsel as early as possible, preferably before you resign. We are recognised for advising clients on successful constructive dismissal claims. Our constructive dismissal claims solicitors can help you with any stage of your claim. We can review the strength of your case, help you to negotiate a settlement agreement with your employer or fight your corner at an Employment Tribunal. We have offices in London, Reading, Oxford and Plymouth and have worked with clients from all over the UK.
What is constructive dismissal?
Constructive dismissal can arise if your working life has been made so difficult by your employer that you feel forced to quit your job and resign. Your employer’s conduct would need to amount to a ‘repudiatory or fundamental' breach of contract. This conduct could be one incident or a series of incidents that result in a “last straw” which causes you to resign. The final incident does not need to be a fundamental breach of contract itself, but it can be “the straw that broke the camel’s back” when taken together with a series of other incidents of unacceptable behaviour over time. Although you resigned, you are treated as having been dismissed by your employer.
What is the difference between Constructive Dismissal and Unfair Dismissal?
‘Constructive dismissal’ can occur when you resign because of how you have been treated. Your employer has behaved towards you in such a way that you feel you cannot continue to work at the company. Although you resigned, you are treated as having been dismissed by your employer.
‘Unfair dismissal’ is the claim you can bring when you have been sacked in an unlawful way by your employer. If you have been constructively dismissed, you can also claim unfair dismissal.
Constructive Dismissal Examples
Employees often claim constructive dismissal after the employer has behaved in a way that has seriously damaged or destroyed the trust and confidence between them.
Examples of things that might amount to constructive dismissal include:
- Removing your key duties or changing your job role without your agreement
- Being demoted without good reason
- Subjecting you to disciplinary proceedings which are unreasonable
- Reducing your salary or withdrawing a benefit
- Setting you up to fail by giving you an unreasonable workload/setting unreasonable targets
- Subjecting you to bullying or discrimination
- Failing to make reasonable adjustments where you have a disability
- Poor handling of a grievance, for example not properly addressing stress at work
- Forcing you to work in breach of health and safety laws
- Making false allegations against you
- Being physically assaulted
- Undermining your authority
- Unreasonable surveillance or workplace monitoring
Constructive dismissal - FAQs for Employees
What claims can I bring if I have been constructively dismissed?
You may be able to bring a claim for damages for breach of contract, known as wrongful dismissal. This will normally be a claim for your notice pay and any contractual benefits you would have received during your notice period. If you are employed on a fixed term contract, you may be able to claim your salary and contractual benefits for the period until the fixed term expires. Depending on the amount you are claiming, this claim can be brought in either the Employment Tribunal or the civil courts.
You may also be able bring an unfair dismissal claim in the Employment Tribunal.
Who can make a claim for wrongful dismissal?
In order to make a claim for wrongful dismissal you need to show that:
- your employer has acted in serious breach of your employment contract, known as fundamental breach or repudiatory breach
- you resigned in response to your employer’s breach without working out your notice period, or without working out all of your notice period
You do not need to have been employed for any particular length of time to be able to claim wrongful dismissal.
Who can make a claim for constructive unfair dismissal?
In order to make a claim for constructive unfair dismissal you need to:
- have worked as an employee at the same company for at least 2 years (unless an exception applies)
- have resigned or left
- prove that you resigned in response to your employer being in fundamental breach of your contract. Sometimes this is obvious and sometimes it is not. Numerous minor breaches over time could be grounds for a constructive dismissal claim. Resigning is a big step and it can be difficult to win a claim for constructive dismissal at an Employment Tribunal. It’s important to get legal advice before resigning so that your case has the best possible chance possible of succeeding
I feel like I am being constructively dismissed. Should I raise a grievance at any stage?
It is usually appropriate first to raise your concerns with your employer about the treatment you have experienced. This should normally be done in the form of a grievance in accordance with your employer’s grievance procedure, or the ACAS Code of Conduct on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.
While it is not essential that you raise a grievance before bringing an Employment Tribunal claim for constructive dismissal, if you do not do so, a Tribunal may reduce any compensation you are awarded by up to 25%.
Our specialist employment solicitors can advise you on whether bringing a grievance is in your best interests and how this may affect your constructive dismissal claim.
How soon do I have to resign?
You should not delay too long before resigning in response to your employer’s actions. A delay of more than a week, or in some circumstances, even a few days may reduce your chances of success in bringing a constructive dismissal claim. If you delay in resigning, an Employment Tribunal or court may decide that you were not constructively dismissed because you accepted what your employer had done without complaining until it was too late.
Sometimes you can justify a delay in resigning because you are waiting for the outcome of a grievance process or because you have been unwell. The exact date by which you must resign so that you can claim constructive dismissal will depend on your personal circumstances and the nature of the employer’s breach. Our specialist employment law solicitors can advise you on your specific circumstances.
How do I resign?
Your resignation should be in writing. Explain your reasons for leaving as clearly as you can. You should explain that you are leaving in response to your employer’s treatment and breach of contract and that you feel that you have no option but to leave employment.
It is important that your resignation is clear and unambiguous. It may eventually become important documentary evidence which will assist with a constructive dismissal claim.
Our constructive dismissal experts can guide you in writing this document which could be important evidence if you ever decide to bring a constructive dismissal claim.
Do I need to work out my notice?
You can resign with or without giving notice. You are not obliged to work out your notice period if you are claiming constructive dismissal, but you may decide to do so for example, for financial reasons. The risk of you working during your notice period is that your employer may argue that you have a weak constructive dismissal claim because you have been able to stay in employment through your notice period. They might argue that if there had really been a fundamental breach, you would have resigned immediately and not felt able to work your notice period.
They might also argue that you have waived the breach by continuing to work.
If there has been a serious breach of contract it may be more appropriate to leave employment straight away without notice. If you don’t work your notice period, you can claim the money you would have received during your notice period.
Is there a time limit for bringing a claim in the Employment Tribunal?
An Employment Tribunal claim for constructive unfair dismissal or for wrongful dismissal needs to be brought within three months from the date that your employment ended. This can be extended by time spent during ACAS Early Conciliation. To bring a claim, you will need to contact ACAS to begin Early Conciliation and to obtain an Early Conciliation Certificate. The Tribunal will not accept your claim without this. It is important that this step is carried out properly for your claim to be successful.
You can learn more at https://ec.acas.org.uk/
What sort of compensation can I receive in the Employment Tribunal?
If you succeed in your constructive unfair dismissal claim, an Employment Tribunal may award you compensation that consists of:
- A basic award of up to £544 per week (depending on your salary) for each complete year you have worked multiplied by 0.5, 1 or 1.5 depending on your age; and
- A compensatory award which may include loss of earnings, bonus, shares, options, benefits and pension. and losses for the hurt, distress, and any personal injury caused. This only includes losses you actually suffer, so if you get a new job, this will limit the amount of compensation available.
The compensatory award will be subject to a statutory cap of £89,493 or a year’s gross salary, whichever is lower.
These figures change in April each year. Our Employment Law Essentials (see right hand side of this page) contains the latest information.
If you succeed in your wrongful dismissal claim, the Employment Tribunal may award you compensation equivalent to the net value of your salary and contractual benefits for your notice period. However, the Employment Tribunal cannot award you more than £25,000. If you want to claim more than £25,000, you will need to bring your claim in the civil courts. We can advise you on this.
You will be under a duty to mitigate your losses by taking reasonable steps to find a new job, and will need to show the Tribunal what steps you have taken to try to find a new job.
Is there a time limit for bringing a wrongful dismissal claim in the civil courts?
A wrongful dismissal claim in the civil courts needs to be brought within six years of the termination of employment.
What compensation can I receive for wrongful dismissal from the civil courts?
If you succeed in your wrongful dismissal claim, the court may award you the net loss of your salary and contractual benefits for your notice period. This could include any bonus or other benefits, such as pension or private medical insurance, that you would have received during your notice period. There is no cap on the amount that can be awarded but you will be under a duty to mitigate your losses by taking reasonable steps to find a new job. You will need to show the court what steps you have taken to try to find a new job.
Can I bring any other claims?
You may bring other claims at the same time. Common examples of other claims brought are discrimination and whistleblowing. You could win those claims and be awarded even higher compensation.
The statutory cap on the compensatory award referred to above for unfair dismissal claims does not apply to constructive unfair dismissal claims which are found to arise from whistleblowing and you do not need to have worked for your employer for two years to bring a whistleblowing claim.
What is the effect of constructive dismissal on my restrictive covenants and non-compete clause?
If your employer has breached your employment contract, you may be free from any restrictive covenants you have in your terms and conditions of employment. However, your employer may not see things that way and dispute any breach. Our constructive dismissal solicitors can advise you on the effect a constructive dismissal may have on your other contractual terms.
How can Doyle Clayton help with a constructive dismissal claim?
Our lawyers have experience in constructive dismissal law. They know how constructive dismissal claims can be brought in the financial, professional services, insurance and technology sectors.
Our experienced and approachable employment law solicitors will support you in bringing a grievance and/or a constructive dismissal claim, providing you with confidence that you have calm and experienced counsel in your corner looking after your best interests.
‘I was very pleased with the holistic support I received surrounding my unfair dismissal case, even when my circumstances were quite peculiar. The team was able to identify when my tax circumstances changed due to moving between countries, strategise with me about which issues to pursue ... and identify a barrister who was well-prepared to bring my case to the Tribunal.’- The Legal 500 (2021)
Our Employment Team
If you are dealing with a constructive dismissal claim, it is helpful to have experts on your side and we can help you every step of the way. Contact our successful constructive dismissal claims solicitors.
Contact Doyle Clayton
If you are looking for help on any constructive dismissal matter you can contact us for a friendly, no-obligation discussion. To make contact call us on +44 (0)20 7329 9090 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Additionally, we are happy to advise you by video call. One of employment team can often advise you on the same day you contact us.