What is Constructive Dismissal?

By | October 5, 2011

Employees who choose to leave jobs of their own volition are not usually entitled to receive compensation from their employers, however there are certain situations where compensation may be an option – particularly if the worker felt they were unable to continue in their position due to fundamental changes in the conditions of employment.

This type of situation is known as constructive dismissal, which suggests that changes to a work position were so significant that employers effectively brought about the termination of the employment contract, without dismissing the employee directly. Constructive dismissal can therefore be difficult to determine and enforce, and requires careful analysis of individual situations.

Even if employers did not carry out any action commonly associated with wrongful dismissal – such as failing to provide just cause or reasonable notice of contract termination – constructive dismissal, if proven, can demand the same type of compensation and notice period.

Among the common reasons cited for constructive dismissal are substantial reductions in wages or work hours, significant changes in duties or responsibilities, or unreasonable demands that were not part of the employee’s original contract – such as the requirement to move to a different place of work. If requests for support or improvements to working conditions have also not been granted or satisfied to a reasonable extent, this may also be grounds for constructive dismissal.

By contrast, any smaller changes to terms of job contracts may not be regarded as sufficient for constructive dismissal claims, especially if these fall within the defined parameters of contracts and company codes.

Employees who feel they have been constructively dismissed in this manner should consult employment law services to find out whether they are entitled to receive compensation. The burden is on employees to prove that the terms of their contract were changed unilaterally, and to a suitably significant extent that made continuing with their position untenable. Because all cases are different, speaking to solicitors could give you a rough idea of how successful your claim could be, and allow you to set realistic expectations.

Employers who are accused of constructive dismissal will need to demonstrate that they acted in accordance with existing frameworks and regulations to avoid having to pay compensation. Consulting documents such as the terms and conditions of employment contracts, or even the original advertisement for an employment position, can be useful for both parties, and could provide valuable material for cases.