Recently LawCat has had questions along the lines of “My employer is trying to make me leave my job, what can I do?” and “My employer won’t sack me but they’re making my life hell, what can I do?” and “My employer doesn’t want me to sue them for sacking me, so their trying to push me out, what can I do?”
What is happening in these situations is commonly called constructive dismissal. It is possible to bring a claim to the employment tribunal if you are the victim of constructive dismissal. However, before you do so, there are at least three questions you should ask yourself first.
What is Constructive Dismissal?
Constructive dismissal is when you’re forced to leave your job against your will because of your employer’s conduct. This does not have to mean your employer forcibly removed you from the workplace; it could be that your employer engaged in a series of smaller actions that over time made your workplace untenable.
However, the actions of your employer must be significant; you cannot leave your job claiming constructive dismissal because you and your employer had a disagreement. The reasons for you leaving must be serious, or small but cumulative.
The most common reasons behind constructive dismissal claims are not being paid or suddenly being demoted for no reason, unreasonable changes to your working conditions and allowing bullying to continue unpunished.
Whatever it is that your employer is doing you must make them aware of it before leaving your job. It is best practice to make sure your employer knows that what they are doing is causing you to feel like you can no longer continue your role with the business. You cannot assume that your employer is carrying out their actions deliberately. In the first instance, you should discuss the matter informally with your employer, and if this does not yield results, then you should consider razing a formal grievance.
Is There A Way to Resolve This Without Going to Court
Being the victim of constructive dismissal can make you feel very angry. While it might be enjoyable to envision standing in Court while a Judge berates your previous employer for the terrible way they have treated you, the reality can be very different.
Going to the Tribunal can be stressful and expensive. Resolving the issue in a way that does not involve the Tribunal is much cheaper and far less demanding. As you will have already tried discussing the matter with your previous employer yourself, through the grievance procedure, and will have found this to be unsuccessful, you may be wondering what other options are available.
The best way to resolve the situation without going to tribunal is through mediation. Mediation gives you the opportunity to discuss the matter in a controlled environment and, hopefully, reach a conclusion that is satisfactory to both you and your previous employer. ACAS, also known as the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service provides a free and impartial service to employers and employees. They provide information, advice and mediation on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law.
Recently, it has become mandatory to attempt to settle matters before bringing a claim.
If you are considering a claim, you must contact ACAS to engage in early conciliation. You cannot proceed if you cannot prove that you have attempted a resolution before bringing Court action. This is enforced by the Employment Tribunal requesting a reference number from you that will be given to you at the end of ACAS’ early conciliation process.
Is It Financially Worth It To Bring a Claim?
Employment Tribunal claims for unfair dismissal will not result in a huge payout
Compensation for this type of claim is restricted to a fixed fee, which calculated by your length of service and your age. You can also request to be reimbursed for some expenses such as the cost of finding a new job. You may also receive some of your lost wages, but this amount is usually limited to three months’ worth of net pay.
You will sometimes have to pay Tribunal fees, and this can be up to £1,200.00. Although you may be eligible for fee remission if you get certain benefits or you’re on a low income and have savings less than £3,000.00.
You should now have an understanding of what a constructive dismissal claim is, and what actions you should take before leaving your workplace. You should also now be aware of the options available to you if you do not want to proceed to the tribunal but wish to resolve the issue. Lastly, you should have an understanding of the financial implications of bringing a claim and be able to make up your mind as to whether or not bringing a claim is financially ‘worth it’.