What is Constructive Dismissal?

The latest in the line of high profile constructive dismissal claims is that of Eva Carneiro. The ex-Chelsea football club doctor was initially pursuing a claim for constructive dismissal (amongst other claims) in an employment tribunal against her former club. Although the claim has now settled, it may have left some people reading the news wondering ‘what on earth is constructive dismissal?’

According to ACAS; ‘constructive dismissal occurs when an employee is forced to leave their job against their will because of their employer’s conduct’. This can occur in such circumstances where an employer;

  • Suddenly demotes an employee with no good reason or doesn’t pay them.
  • Changes an employee’s working conditions (e.g. Working times).
  • Excessively disciplines employees.

In order to prove constructive dismissal, the following must be proved:

  1. That the employer has committed a clear fundamental breach of contract.
  2. That the employee has resigned as a result of the breach.
  3. The employee’s conduct was not such that they accepted their breach or change in employment conditions.

As can be seen from the third criterion, much of the behaviour and actions of the employee can affect the compensation received, which makes for meticulous analysing of the matter as a whole.

While there is a lot of advice floating around on the internet of the nuances of these elements, constructive dismissal is extremely difficult claim to prove and on top of that can be costly if it goes wrong. It is advised that you should look to get legal advice.

If you feel like you are being put in a position where your employer is seeking to dismiss you; or you are an employer who is subject to such a claim, please do get in touch.

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