In recent months, a large number of recession-hit organisations have asked
their employees to agree to temporary short-time working as a way to avoid redundancies.
A few bad eggs have changed working
conditions unilaterally, however, to spur employees into resigning, or
devised other illegal schemes to shed staff without redundancy pay.
Where you feel forced to resign because of your employer’s unlawful
behaviour, you may be able to claim for constructive dismissal.
What is constructive dismissal?
To prove constructive dismissal, you must demonstrate that your
former employer committed a serious breach of contract, you did not
accept the breach, and you felt forced to resign because of that
Examples of serious breaches of contract in this context include the
- Unilaterally cutting your pay
- Arbitrarily demoting you to a lesser role
- Changing your job duties, working hours or place of work without your
- Making it impossible for you to do your job effectively
- Failing to give you reasonable support to carry out your job without
disruption or harassment from fellow workers
- Forcing you to work in conditions where health and safety regulations are
- Wrongly and without evidence accusing you of theft
Constructive dismissal cases are hard to win, so you should always seek advice
before leaving your job. Factors such as your employment status, the terms of
your employment contract, length of service, and reasons for leaving all require
You can obtain further information about constructive dismissal and guidance
on what your options are for dealing with the situation from Directgov, Citizens Advice
Bureau (CAB) and ACAS. Both CAB and ACAS provide free and impartial advice.
You can be matched with an employment law solicitor in your area for free
via solicitor matching services, which can also help you to understand the best
course of action for your situation and whether you are ready to hire a
And, again depending on your situation, they may be able to help you find a
solicitor who will agree to take your case on a “no win no fee” basis, which
means you don’t have to pay for the solicitor’s services unless you win your
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