According to government records, successful claims for unfair dismissal increased by 51% for 2021/22, a statistic that may be heartening for someone that is looking to prove a constructive dismissal claim.
Having said that, it's important to understand why this may be the case. There are a number of factors that may influence this rise, including:
Delays due to Covid
Claims relating to the furlough scheme
The cost of living crisis
Employees feeling increasingly dissatisfied with employers (i.e. remote working policies post-Covid).
Historically, not many constructive and unfair dismissal claims win (only around 5%). In the main, cases are dismissed because an employee is unable to adequately prove that an employer's conduct was so bad it caused them to resign.
Which begs the question, how do you actually prove a constructive dismissal claim?
What you need to prove a constructive dismissal case
Constructive dismissal is classified when an employee resigns as a direct result of their employer breaching their contract.
1. A serious breach of contract
In most cases an employer will have broken a written term in your contract of employment. This might be related to payment of wages, working hours and shift patterns, or health and safety in your working environment.
In rarer cases, it may be that an employer has broken a term that was implied by them, but not necessarily detailed in the contract. For example, the employer acts in a dishonest way which impacts the employees employment prospects. This can be seen in the case of Malik v BCCI SA where two employees claimed they had lost employment prospects because the Bank has breached their implied contractual obligation of mutual trust and confidence.
2.Directly connected to the employee's resignation.
This part is often the sticking point for employees looking to prove a constructive dismissal claim because they don't always resign straight after the breach takes place.
The trouble with this is that not resigning close to the incident can be interpreted as the employee accepting the behaviour, and their resignation later being unrelated to the breach.
If you have good reason to believe you might have a constructive dismissal claim, it's important you seek out expert help and advice quickly in order to build your case, either from an experienced employment solicitor, trade union rep, or ACAS.
Recently, Citizen's Advice have openly said that if you take your claim to an employment tribunal without help and advice, you're likely to lose.
With that, there are several actions you must take to have a good chance of winning your claim, which we will explore below.
How To Prove Constructive Dismissal
Speak to management
You will need to show proof that you tried to resolve things before you were forced to resign.
As a starting point, you can speak to your direct manager. If you need to go to upper management, you should. You can also talk to a trade union representative or someone in the HR department.
For each of these interactions take records and keep all of your correspondence. Make detailed notes on any conversations, and always follow up in writing, either by email or letter.
Follow your company's official complaints or grievance process
Find out what the formal process is for raising a grievance and follow it as closely as you can.
Log your complaint officially and in writing, keeping all of your notes on any discussions or meetings.
Record all incidents
Every time there is an incident that you believe to be part of your claim for constructive dismissal, make a record of it. That might be a log or a journal with dates, times, the people involved, any witnesses, and all the important details.
Keep supporting documents
Carefully keep any relevant documents that back up your claim such as payslips if your claim is pay related, time sheets for a case to do with work hours, company memos, emails or any other documents that could be relevant to the claim.
Identify witnesses and gather witness statements
Make notes of any other colleagues who happen to be around when incidents occur. Once you have left the company you can then ask them for statements. It will help if you can provide them with dates, times, locations of where the incidents occurred.
Resign as soon as possible
You can only claim constructive dismissal if the breach of contract forces you to resign. If your employer terminates your employment, you may well have a case for unfair dismissal, but it cannot be constructive dismissal.
Timeframes between breach of contract and resignation open to some interpretation, which can make proving your claim even harder in some cases, but generally the longer you leave it, the greater the chances a tribunal might decide you waited too long and in doing so accepted what happened
Identify the breach of employment contract
There are many possible reasons for this including workplace bullying, discrimination related to a protected characteristics, withholding of pay or underpayment of wages and many other causes.
If you are unsure what might count as constructive dismissal, check out our article on the signs to look out for that mean you might have a constructive dismissal claim.
How can Lawhive help me prove constructive dismissal?
Being forced to quit your job under these kinds of circumstances is never pleasant. However, it's important to know that if you do not feel supported by your employer, you do have options and there is support available.
While time is of the essence in proving constructive dismissal claims, you should always take the time to seek expert legal advice on your specific situation. Any good employment solicitor will take the time to listen to what has happened and guide you through the process of making a claim for constructive dismissal.
If you find yourself in this position, our solicitors are on hand to help. To get started, simply tell us about your case to get a fixed-fee quote in as little as 5 minutes and be connected to a specialist solicitor as soon as possible.