Constructive Dismissal – What it is and how to avoid it.

When an employee feels that they are being forced into resigning due to their treatment at work, they may decide to make a constructive dismissal claim. It can be costly to defend such a case and extremely challenging to defend, so you want to do everything you can to avoid it. It is, therefore, essential to be aware of the potential of a constructive dismissal case.

What causes a constructive dismissal claim?

A constructive dismissal claim exists when an employee believes that the employer is deliberately making decisions to cause them to leave. For instance, reducing their pay, demoting them, or changing working hours. For example, if a part-time worker is informed that their job needs to be full-time, this could be viewed as constructive dismissal, as it may not be possible for the part-time worker to take on extra hours. These are relatively straightforward and obvious, but constructive dismissal claims can be subtle. For example, demeaning an employee, bullying, or discrimination. These are cases that are more difficult to prove. Employees need to have completed two years of continuous service with the employer to be eligible to claim for constructive dismissal unless it is ‘automatically unfair,’ such as discrimination.

How to avoid constructive dismissal claims

If you have employees who are unhappy in the workplace, there is every chance that, at some point, they will raise this type of claim. Therefore, managers need to be trained to understand when employees are unhappy. For instance, if they are exhibiting negative behaviours, their productivity levels have fallen, or you are aware that they are actively looking for a new job. As constructive dismissal can be split into two categories; change in terms and workplace treatment, there are various ways you can try to avoid constructive dismissal claims.

Create a Positive Culture

One of the most important ways to avoid constructive dismissal claims is to maintain a positive environment within the workplace. When the environment is positive and healthy, employees will feel valued and included. They will, therefore, not be left feeling that they are being mistreated.

Legitimate Processes

Any changes or decisions you make should be for business purposes and not personal reasons. For instance, if you are rejecting an employee for a job, you should have a legitimate reason to do so and should be able to provide helpful feedback to an employee. Unfortunately, there are cases when employees are rejected multiple times for roles within a company without receiving feedback. This, naturally, causes them to feel that the employer is trying to encourage them to leave. Likewise, if you are looking to change hours or pay rate, there would need legitimate reasons, and you should follow a consultancy process by liaising with your HR support, or by employing external HR solutions.

Regular Communication

You can avoid most issues through regular communication with your employees. Even a weekly check-in to ask how they are getting on and if they are experiencing any problems will help you to maintain a positive environment. If employees feel that you are entirely hands-off and are not even asking how they are, they are less likely to feel included and part of the team.

If you want to chat with us about constructive dismissal, including what this means to your business and how to avoid it, you can contact us on 01787 695084. Alternatively, for expert advice and guidance on any HR support for business issues you may have, or to discuss our complete HR solutions and how they can benefit your business, please visit our contact page.

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