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What is constructive dismissal and who can claim this?

Most dismissals occur where an employee is dismissed by their employer.

A constructive dismissal happens however where an employee resigns, but can show that they were entitled to do so, because of their employer’s conduct.

The employer’s conduct must be sufficiently serious to justify your resignation, not something minor. It must go to “the root of the contract of employment” so it is quite a high threshold to reach.

As the employee, you must actually resign before making any claim for constructive dismissal. For this reason, we recommend you take legal advice before resigning.

However, you should not delay too long, as you may later be deemed to have accepted the conduct.

If an Employment Tribunal accepts that you have been constructively dismissed, there is a process of assessing the loss for which your former employer would be responsible:

Firstly, damages for breach of contract – for which there is no qualifying period of service. Typically this would include the net value of pay for your contractual notice period (if you resigned without notice).

Secondly, in most cases, compensation for unfair dismissal – for which generally you will need to have completed two years’ service with your employer in order to make this part of the claim.

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