If an employee feels they have no choice but to resign because of something their employer has done, they might be able to claim for 'constructive dismissal'.
The legal term is 'constructive unfair dismissal'.
What constructive dismissal is
An employee can make a constructive dismissal claim if they resign because they think their employer has seriously breached their employment contract.
Examples could include:
- regularly not being paid the agreed amount without a good reason
- being bullied or discriminated against
- raising a grievance that the employer refuses to look into
- making unreasonable changes to working patterns or place of work without agreement
It could be because of one serious incident or a series of things.
If you're in this situation
Resigning is a big step to take, and a constructive dismissal claim can be difficult to win at an employment tribunal.
It's important to try to sort out any issues with your employer first. You can raise a problem informally or raise a formal grievance. Find out how to raise a problem at work.
If you're going to resign, you should get legal advice first.
A settlement agreement is sometimes used to end an employment relationship in a way the employer and employee both agree with.
If you sign a settlement agreement, you cannot make a constructive dismissal claim to an employment tribunal.
If you resign
In your resignation letter you should explain clearly your reasons for leaving.
If there's been a serious breach of contract you may want to leave your job straight away instead of working your notice period.
Doing this could be a breach of your employment contract but it can be justified sometimes. You should get legal advice.
Making a constructive dismissal claim
You usually have the right to make a constructive dismissal claim to an employment tribunal if:
- you have 'employee' employment status
- you've worked for your employer for 2 years
You must make the claim within 3 months less 1 day of the date your employment ended. In almost all circumstances, your employment ends on either:
- the last day of your notice period
- the day you resigned if you did not give your employer notice
You must tell Acas first if you want to make a claim. You will be offered the option of 'early conciliation'.