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Constructive Dismissal And Your Rights As A Worker

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 9 Dec 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Workers' Rights Workers Constructive

Once an employee has tendered resignation over a work-related issue, that may not be the end of the affair. If the employee feels they had no choice but to get out of a bad situation with the employer, and that situation can be proved to be the fault of the business, then they can consider themselves effectively dismissed and could bring a claim against the organisation as part of their Workers' Rights.

This is often referred to as being 'constructively dismissed' and many people have brought successful claims against their former employers for it, although it's a risky thing to do and people need to be aware of the pitfalls before proceeding.

How Can You Tell if You've Been Constructively Dismissed?

Being constructively dismissed is defined by two things. First, is the seriousness and provability of the issue over which you quit, and second is that you felt you were forced by your employer to resign, having no other choice. The issue at the centre of the dispute needs to be something very concrete. This could be your employer coercing you to accept changes in your contract without warning or consultation, such as putting you on a night shift or demanding that you work for the business in a different town or city. Or it could be a breach of your Employment Contract, like demoting you without reason or not paying you.

Less provable issues, but still considered serious enough to be considered for a constructive dismissal claim under your workers' rights, include harassment, violence or Bullying By Colleagues or superiors, or perhaps being forced to work in conditions where Health And Safety Regulations are not observed.

In these cases, there will be a need to produce witnesses to support your claim, which could prove tricky if those witnesses fear they will lose their jobs too. Of course, if the witnesses were harassed or disciplined for helping your case, then they would be able to sue for wrongful dismissal, and would probably win. However, they might prefer to keep their positions, particularly in areas where jobs are hard to come by.

Procedures to Pursue a Claim

In order that you can prove that you had no choice but to resign, you may have to follow through the business's internal process. First see if the problem can be sorted out informally and amicably with your employer, and if not, raise a grievance procedure and follow that through to its conclusion.

If the company refuses to acknowledge or act on your informal approach or the grievance procedure, then you will be able to show that your efforts were ignored. If they co-operate with the process but the outcome is one you are unsatisfied with, you will need to take independent expert advice on your rights as a worker before deciding what to do next.

Look Before You Decide to Resign

If you feel that you have no choice but to resign from the business, it is absolutely imperative that you find that independent advice, and quickly, for two reasons, in order to safeguard your workers' rights. The first is that if you don't act quickly your employer may be able to claim that your decision to remain with the company implied an acceptance of the situation.

The second, making this a right catch-22 situation, is that it would be folly to quit a job before making sure that you had a good case for constructive dismissal. So you have to resign quickly, but not before an expert has been able to assess your situation thoroughly and advise you as to the suitability of a claim for constructive dismissal.

Where to Get Help With Claims For Constructive Dismissal

Trade Union Members can get a wealth of help with constructive dismissal though their representatives, but non-union members will have to turn to other services to pursue their rights as workers. First port of call should be the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) or ACAS, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, both of which will provide free and impartial advice on constructive dismissal. In view of the urgency, it might be better to invest in seeing a solicitor who specialises in employment law and the CAB can help you find one locally.

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[Add a Comment]
damo1969 - Your Question:
I am a supervisor for a company who began a close personal relationship with another employer. This developed into a brief 'affair' (she was unhappily married) I am single. We never took this relationship into work and no-one at work was aware of it. We decided mutually that the physical side of our relationship should stop, which it did. We continued communicating out of work (there was no indication of any issue). I was suspended as an allegation of harassment had been made by this employee. I am now potentially facing disciplinary and dismissal when our relationship was mutual. Where do I stand?

Our Response:
This is a difficult question to reply to - as it is circumstantial. Even if the relationship was consensual and mutual, it does not mean harassment cannot take place, so it depends on what the harassment allegations are. Your only recourse in this instance is to seek legal advice, please see link here.
WorkingRights - 11-Dec-17 @ 12:13 PM
I am a supervisor for a company who began a close personal relationship with another employer. This developed into a brief 'affair' (she was unhappily married) I am single. We never took this relationship into work and no-one at work was aware of it. We decided mutually that the physical side of our relationship should stop, which it did. We continued communicating out of work (there was no indication of any issue). I was suspended as an allegation of harassment had been made by this employee. I am now potentially facing disciplinary and dismissal when our relationship was mutual. Where do i stand?
damo1969 - 9-Dec-17 @ 3:55 AM
Andy - Your Question:
Hi,I work in IT Support in a private school; I am often subjected to demeaning comments from my Line Manager about my age, apparent lack of competence - amongst other things. This occurs most days and very frequently, these comments are made in front of other colleagues, who then join in - presumably, to show support of the Line Manager. Although I often receive comments about my perceived lack of ability from my Line Manager, this view is NOT shared by the end users, who commonly praise the prompt and efficient level of support that they receive from me.On my office wall, I used to have a photo of my son; this I've now removed, as with regard to this image, my Line Manager (in front of others) made comments such as "Look at the size of the gob on him". How can such comments about my son be appropriate - when they are entirely unrelated to what I do at work ? My Line Manager has no children of his own and clearly, sees no harm in such remarks. This insult hurt me more, than if it had been directed personally at me. In the end, because of such comments, I removed the photo.I'm 57 and although I'm well-qualified, because of my age, I'd find it very hard to get another job. I'm considered to be a lowly IT Technician and the school management know that it would be much harder to replace my line manager who is responsible for the entire network at the school, so I will not find any level of support from them.Unfortunately, my Line Manager is only 30 years old and is in his position purely because of his high level of knowledge of IT. He has never been on any kind of management training course and consequently, he lacks the basic skills to deal adequately with his staff. I find the situation to be very depressing; my Line Manager is unable to recognise that his behaviour is in any way unacceptable.Constructive comments would be greatly appreciated.Thank you

Our Response:
In the first instance, you would have to speak to your line manager directly regarding his attitude to you. If his attitude continues, then your only option would be to raise a grievance to your manager's higher, please see link here .
WorkingRights - 10-Oct-17 @ 11:51 AM
Hi, I work in IT Support in a private school; I am often subjected to demeaning comments from my Line Manager about my age, apparent lack of competence - amongst other things.This occurs most days and very frequently, these comments are made in front of other colleagues, who then join in - presumably, to show support of the Line Manager.Although I often receive comments about my perceived lack of ability from my Line Manager, this view is NOT shared by the end users, who commonly praise the prompt and efficient level of support that they receive from me. On my office wall, I used to have a photo of my son; this I've now removed, as with regard to this image, my Line Manager (in front of others) made comments such as "Look at the size of the gob on him".How can such comments about my son be appropriate - when they are entirely unrelated to what I do at work ?My Line Manager has no children of his own and clearly, sees no harm in such remarks.This insult hurt me more, than if it had been directed personally at me.In the end, because of such comments, I removed the photo. I'm 57 and although I'm well-qualified, because of my age, I'd find it very hard to get another job.I'm considered to be a lowly IT Technician and the school management know that it would be much harder to replace my line manager who is responsible for the entire network at the school, so I will not find any level of support from them. Unfortunately, my Line Manager is only 30 years old and is in his position purely because of his high level of knowledge of IT.He has never been on any kind of management training course and consequently, he lacks the basic skills to deal adequately with his staff. I find the situation to be very depressing; my Line Manager is unable to recognise that his behaviour is in any way unacceptable. Constructive comments would be greatly appreciated. Thank you
Andy - 9-Oct-17 @ 9:53 AM
Ross - Your Question:
I've been suspended from work for hitting ò a customer this customer was a shoplifter who is verbally abusing me I felt threatened intimidated by this person as he was man I asked the person to leave the store and call me disgusting names his eyes were wide and his fists clenched I hit him before he hit me I've been suspended what can I do

Our Response:
You can see more via the WorkSmart link here which will give you further information.
WorkingRights - 11-Sep-17 @ 12:31 PM
I've been suspended from work for hitting ò a customer this customer was a shoplifter who is verbally abusing me I felt threatened intimidated by this person as he was man I asked the person to leave the store and call me disgusting names his eyes were wide and his fists clenched I hit him before he hit me I've been suspended what can I do
Ross - 10-Sep-17 @ 12:30 PM
I have been working for my company for just under 2 years. For the best part of last year I feel I have been harassed by a colleague, who incidentally has put in several grievances against me. These were investigated and they weren't upheld, my colleague then went off sick with stress. Whilst my colleague was on the sick, their line manager harassed me in my office, a statement was made but nothing came if it, even though it was witnessed by other members of my team. My colleague has since returned back to work and has made further allegations of unfair treatment and isolation and has alluded that I'm to blame which I refute. I was told today that I should mediate with said colleague and should this fail, i could potentially lose my job. Where do I stand with this??
Threaders! - 13-Mar-17 @ 5:48 PM
Ann de - Your Question:
Suspended following allegations made ,after going off sick with stress two days later. No evidence to date has been presented to me. Was informed my case was going to disaplinary Christmas Eve. Evening before disaplinary was informed that suspension had been lifted and was to return to work. During my suspension I suffered and still do with depression /anxiety. No formal letter was sent given reasons as to why disaplinary was cancelled or what I was to expect on my return after requesting. I was informed verbally that I would be on phased return in the case of suspension I would need to use annual leave. I was informed that if I did not have annual leave I would be expected to do full days even though they are aware of how the process has effected me. Before I returned I was diagnosed with cancer and informed my manager. First day back I was unjustly reprimanded for a request made by previous manager to all the team. No apology was given. Due to my condition I had informed my manager of fatigue in the afternoons, she arranged for training in the afternoon and informed I was to work a night with x2 days notice. I was left in the office alone,with no instructions feeling vulnerable considering I could not converse with any colleagues. I am one out of 2 people that work full time and feel that I am being set up to be constructively dismissed.

Our Response:
Please see the Fit for Work link herewhich will tell you if your employer is acting within the guidelines. You can also speak to an adviser via its chatline if you need further guidance. However, an employee who is off sick, or who is unable to do their job properly because if illness can still be fairly dismissed if the employer has a fair reason and acts reasonably by following the correct procedure, please see link here .
WorkingRights - 8-Mar-17 @ 10:42 AM
Suspended following allegations made ,after going off sick with stress two days later. No evidence to date has been presented to me. Was informed my case was going to disaplinary Christmas Eve. Evening before disaplinary was informed that suspension had been lifted and was to return to work. During my suspension I suffered and still do with depression /anxiety. No formal letter was sent given reasons as to why disaplinary was cancelled or what I was to expect on my return after requesting. I was informed verbally that I would be on phased return in the case of suspension I would need to use annual leave. I was informed that if I did not have annual leave I would be expected to do full days even though they are aware of how the process has effected me. Before I returned I was diagnosed with cancer and informed my manager. First day back I was unjustly reprimanded for a request made by previous manager to all the team. No apology was given. Due to my condition I had informed my manager of fatigue in the afternoons, she arranged for training in the afternoon and informed I was to worka night with x2 days notice. I was left in the office alone,with no instructions feeling vulnerable considering I could not converse with any colleagues. I am one out of 2 people that work full time and feel that I am being set up to be constructively dismissed.
Ann de - 7-Mar-17 @ 8:24 AM
Nigel - Your Question:
I have put a Dr letter to my employer saying that I am unsuitable for nightshift because of my illness. I'm now being told to do a driving job and if I don't do it I won't have a job. I had a disagreement with my supervisor with lead to raised voices and me being reported to HR. A manager came and told me an investigation will be held but it's not a witch hunt about 5 times. This manager now has the final say in wether I get disciplined

Our Response:
There are some situations when your employer can dismiss you fairly, which can involve not be able to do your job properly, please see link here.
WorkingRights - 5-Apr-16 @ 2:52 PM
I have put a Dr letter to my employer saying that I am unsuitable for nightshift because of my illness. I'm now being told to do a driving job and if I don't do it I won't have a job. I had a disagreement with my supervisor with lead to raised voices and me being reported to HR. A manager came and told me an investigation will be held but it's not a witch hunt about 5 times. This manager now has the final say in wether I get disciplined
Nigel - 4-Apr-16 @ 11:00 PM
@F - I think it might be good for you to speak with Acas on this matter to see whether there is any discrimination here, especially if you have been placed on a different probation programme to another colleague, plus if there has been no guidance. You can access Acas advice via the link here. I hope this helps.
WorkingRights - 7-Apr-15 @ 10:23 AM
I was offereda contracted new post in another internal department. I was recruited by someone now on maternity leave. Her cover, who would be my equivalent, has told me I'm on probation when I completed probation in my other post and do not have to in this one. He's also not given me the same probation program as the person he recruited to be his cover. I have had little support and guidance, and while I feel I have been excelling, he is using my inexperience and lack of in-depth knowledge about policy (I'm working on it, and lack the support his cover has been given) to tear me down in meetings. I've just been provided with a paper form for probation where he makes little reference to the great work I've been doing and more attention is paid to the fact he thinks I'm not qualified. He's asked me to sign the form and send it back to himi don't think I should. Please help.
F - 3-Apr-15 @ 8:48 AM
@gawie - Employers can take action through disciplining or dismissing employees for misconduct outside of the workplace, if the gravity of the incident has an effect upon the employer. However, your employer must conduct a fair investigation into the matter. Should you need any further information, I suggest you contact Acas via the link herein order to gain advice on the best route forward. I hope this helps.
WorkingRights - 27-Feb-15 @ 10:55 AM
I was drinking and did not go to work I went to a bar on client premises and damaged the boom gate that closed on my car as I drove into the club area now my company is taking action againts me it was my own car and not at work what can I do?
gawie - 25-Feb-15 @ 12:06 PM
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