If you feel you were forced to resign because of your employer’s actions, you could have a case for constructive dismissal. This is often confused with unfair dismissal, which is when you have been let go for what UK law sees as an undue reason, or in a way that didn’t follow the correct procedures. In either situation, you may be able to seek compensation if you can prove your case.
You can prove constructive dismissal through things such as recording incidents that caused you to leave a job, witness statements backing up your arguments and documents like paycheques or emails that help prove you were intentionally forced to leave your job.
There are four steps to follow if you feel you are currently being forced out of a job, and that you have a case for constructive dismissal:
- Talk to the company to try and resolve the issue.
- File a grievance report.
- If the problem is unresolved, leave your job without full notice.
- Take your former employer to an Industrial Tribunal and claim for constructive dismissal.
This guide will help you understand how to put together a case, but speaking with an employment law solicitor through First4lawyers can improve your chances of success. Get in touch for a no obligation consultation about your circumstances.
What is constructive dismissal?
Constructive dismissal is when an employee is forced to leave their job because of the actions of their employer. These actions need to be proved to be a breach of contract. There are two ways a contract can be breached:
- A breach of an express term in your contract – Express terms are parts of your contract such as pay, hours, job role, holiday allowance, and so on.
- A break of an implied term in your contract – Implied terms aren’t stated in your contract because they’re generally understood that your employer will follow them. These include things like providing a safe and healthy work environment as defined in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and not allowing discrimination.
How to show evidence of constructive dismissal
If you take your constructive dismissal case to a tribunal, you’ll be expected to provide evidence your only option was to leave your employment. The official documentation from grievance reports and mediation records are important pieces of evidence, but are unlikely to be enough to win the case alone.
You’ll need to show your employer consistently treated you unfairly with no attempt to resolve the issue. Evidence of this can include:
- Witness statements – Fellow employees can provide statements about your case. These can be very well regarded by the court, but you might find witnesses are reluctant to come forward if they are still employed by the company.
- Records of incidents – Recording the issues as they happen can be useful evidence. You will need to include exact dates and times, which can be difficult to remember later.
- Supporting documents – Any paperwork that backs up your claim, such as paycheques, emails, letters, and so on, will help to support your case.
What are the grounds for a constructive dismissal case?
There are no set grounds for a constructive dismissal case, but there are some examples of reasons why someone might feel forced to leave their job, and therefore have a case for constructive dismissal:
- They were consistently not paid their full wage or on time.
- They were bullied or harassed by other staff members and the employer refused to do anything to resolve it.
- They were told they had to work night shifts, despite only day shifts being outlined in their contract.
- They were not provided with the correct safety equipment for their job and were in danger while working.
- They were falsely accused of misconduct by their employer, despite a lack of evidence.
How to claim for constructive dismissal
By following the steps below, you’ll improve your chances of resolving your constructive dismissal case, and of potentially being awarded compensation.
- Speak to upper management
Before you leave your job, you’ll need to prove you’ve attempted to resolve the issue directly.
Speak with your manager if you feel you can trust them. If they are the reason you feel your contract has been breached, try talking to an HR manager, a member of your trade union, or someone who is more senior than your manager.
- Follow your company’s complaints or grievance procedure
Your company should have an official grievance procedure, which you should follow if speaking to a manager doesn’t help. By logging an official compliant, your employer must follow the company’s outlined steps to resolve the issue.
If this doesn’t help, you could contact ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) who may be able to mediate the dispute.
- Make a claim for constructive dismissal
If the above actions haven’t worked, and you still find that you genuinely cannot carry on working with your current employer, you could consider leaving without giving notice. You can then claim for constructive dismissal.
Before quitting, it is highly recommended you speak to an employment law specialist, such as those available through First4lawyers, to see if your case could be successful.
If you quit your job, you may not be able to claim for Jobseekers Allowance for 26 weeks. Leaving the job and moving straight into another line of work could also harm your case, as it could be argued that you’ve left for better benefits, not due to a breach of contract.
Get professional help for your constructive dismissal case
Constructive dismissal cases are winnable, and with strong evidence and support you can gain the justice you deserve. Hiring a solicitor with experience in employment law will help you to develop a case that’s harder to dispute.
Contact First4lawyers and we can help you to understand if you have a case, and what your next steps should be. You can get in touch for a no obligation discussion.
If you think you might have a different issue at work, such as unfair dismissal, our guides on employment law will help you to see what your best course of action is.
Note: First4lawyers offers this information as guidance, not advice. Before taking any action, you should seek professional assistance tailored to your personal circumstances and not rely on First4lawyers’ online information alone. All details correct at time of last update.
Last updated: October 2016