What is constructive dismissal?
Constructive dismissal (sometimes called constructive termination) is when you're forced to resign because of something your employer has done. Often this is the result of a hostile work environment.
What does the law say about constructive dismissal?
As an employee you have the legal right to a safe work environment. Constructive dismissal claims are based on your employer breaching your contract of employment forcing you to resign. The legal term is 'constructive unfair dismissal'.
Who can make a constructive dismissal claim?
To claim for constructive dmimissal, you usually need to be classified as an employee and employed for at least 2 years (including your statutory notice period).
If you've worked for your employer for less than 2 years you might still be able to claim for constructive dismissal if the reason you were dimissed is discriminatory or 'automatically unfair'. See here for more on this.
8 signs you might have a constructive dismissal claim
You're regularly not paid the amount you're owed without any good reason.
If your employer decides to pay you less than you are owed according to your contract and has no good reason, this may be grounds for constructive dismissal.
You are being bullied at work.
There's no legal definition of bullying, and bullying can take many forms. Some common examples are co-workers spreading malicious rumours, copying private messages or memos about you to other parties who don't need access to the private information, misuses of power or position by a manager or superior, unwelcome sexual advances or inappropriate language or behaviour, constant criticism that is unjustified.
You are experiencing discrimination from co-workers.
Discrimination can be based on many factors such as age, race, gender, sexuality.
You've raised a grievance that your employer has refused to look into.
If you have brought a legitimate problem to the attention of your employer, yet they have refused to look into it, they may be creating a hostile work environment.
Your work environment is unsafe.
If your work location or environment is unsafe, and your employer knows it, you may have a claim for constructive dismissal.
Your employer has changed your hours or your work location in an unreasonable way.
Usually your employer needs your permission to change your hours or the location of where you work. If you refuse but your employer insists, you may have a claim.
You're not getting the support you need to do your job
If you can't do your job because your employer doesn't give you the support or resoruces you need and that you were promised, you may have a claim.
Your employer has taken away benefits that your contract says you should get.
If your contract says you should receive a certain benefit, like a car, and your employer decides to take the benefit away, you may have a claim.
You are demoted or your salary is reduced, or you're threatened with a salary reduction.
If your employer demotes you or reduces your salary so it no longer matches what's in your contract, you may have a claim for constructive dismissal.
What to do if you think you have a claim?
You have to act quickly. By law, you've got 3 months minus a day from the date your job ended to start legal action.
It is important you get help and advice. The citizen's advice bureau has openly said that if you take your claim to an employment tribunal without help and advice, you're likely to lose.
One source of advice is a specialist employment solicitor or lawyer.