Employment Law

Employment Law

Grievances & Resignation

Where an employer commits a fundamental breach of an employee's contract of employment that employee is entitled to resign and treat himself/herself as having being dismissed by the employer - this is called constructive dismissal.

Unless the employer has a fair reason for breaching the contract of employment the dismissal will be deemed unfair by an Employment Tribunal.

The term breached does not have to be an actual written term of the contract. Constructive dismissal can arise where there is no written contract of employment or where the written terms do not cover the alleged breach by the employer. Common breaches of written terms that can constitute a constructive dismissal are

  • reduction in pay
  • demotion/change in job role
  • change in working hours

The employer can also breach implied terms of the contract of employment. Implied terms by definition are terms implied into every contract of employment whether there is a written contract or not. The most common implied term that may be breached and bring about constructive dismissal claims is that of mutual trust and confidence.  For example:

  • If an employer unjustifiably issues a disciplinary sanction it may give rise to a breach of trust and confidence.
  • An employer who acts in a bullying and/or aggressive manner may breach trust and confidence.
  • A refusal to address legitimate employee concerns may constitute a breach of trust and confidence.

It is often hard for an employee to establish that there has been a constructive dismissal - therefore an employee should seek advice before taking such a drastic step.  If an employer has issues with an employee they should seek early advice before taking any steps so as to limit the chance of a costly employment tribunal claim.

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