Constructive Dismissal

What Is Constructive Dismissal?

Constructive Dismissal occurs when an employee is forced to resign due to the employer making their working conditions unbearable. This could involve significant changes to the role, pay cuts, harassment, or other actions that violate the terms of employment. Constructive dismissal is recognized in many jurisdictions as a wrongful termination, giving the employee the right to pursue legal action.

Key Features of Constructive Dismissal

  • Deterioration of Working Conditions: Substantial negative changes made by the employer that make it impossible for the employee to continue working.
  • Involuntary Resignation: The employee feels they have no choice but to resign due to the conditions imposed by the employer.
  • Legal Recourse: Employees may seek legal remedy for losses incurred as a result of the dismissal.
  • Burden of Proof: Typically, the employee must prove that the employer’s actions constituted a breach of contract or working conditions.

How Does Constructive Dismissal Work?

  1. Issue Arises: The employee experiences unbearable changes or actions at work.
  2. Attempt to Resolve: The employee should ideally attempt to resolve the issue internally before deciding to resign.
  3. Resignation: If unresolved, the employee resigns, citing the reasons related to the changes in working conditions.
  4. Legal Action: The employee may file a claim against the employer for constructive dismissal, seeking compensation or other remedies.

Best Practices for Avoiding Constructive Dismissal Claims

  • Clear Communication: Maintain open lines of communication with employees about changes and their impact.
  • Seek Agreement: For any significant changes, seek the employee’s agreement or provide adequate notice.
  • Support and Mediation: Offer support and mediation to resolve workplace issues before they escalate.
  • Documentation: Keep thorough records of all communications and decisions related to changes in employment terms or conditions.


Yes, because it often relies on subjective assessments of working conditions and the reasonableness of the employee's decision to resign.

Document everything, seek to resolve the issues internally if possible, and consult with a legal professional for advice.

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