What is constructive dismissal?

Overview

There may come a time during your teaching career when you feel forced to leave your position because of your school’s unreasonable or unlawful conduct. You may feel forced to resign because you consider there is no other alternative. This is known as constructive dismissal.

However, before reaching this stage you should have tried to resolve all the relevant issues by speaking to your line manager and through using internal procedures at your school.

What can be classed as constructive dismissal?

To be able to prove a case of constructive dismissal there must be serious reasons why you felt compelled to leave your teaching position.

Factors contributing towards a case of constructive dismissal can be one serious incident, or a number of incidents that when taken together constitute a serious breach of contract or unacceptable behaviour. Serious reasons can include:

  • A breach of your employment contract by your school that you were not prepared to accept
  • If you are not paid when agreed
  • Demotion without explanation or valid reason
  • You are forced to accept unreasonable changes to how you work
  • Bullying or harassment by other members of staff when it has not been addressed properly at your school

How can I establish a case of constructive dismissal?

To establish a case for constructive dismissal, you will need to show that your school has acted in fundamental breach of a term of your employment contract. Often the breach is not a single act but can be over a period of time with a reduction of responsibilities, being subjected to bullying or unjustified complaints.

The term often relied on in constructive dismissal claims is ‘mutual trust and confidence’ between employer and employee. If this relationship is damaged, you will be entitled to treat yourself as discharged from your obligations under your contract enabling you to resign.

There is a large amount of case law as to what is a fundamental breach of the term of ‘mutual trust and confidence’ and you are advised to seek advice from Edapt before taking any action. You will also have to show that the reason for your resignation was the fundamental breach of your contract and not some other reason, for example, that you have accepted another job.

It can be very difficult to bring about a successful case for constructive dismissal, and it is incredibly important to seek early advice on such cases.

What should I do if I feel forced to resign?

If you are currently considering leaving your school because you feel forced to do so, or you have already left and are of the opinion that you have been subject to constructive dismissal then Edapt can offer HR services and legal advice to ensure you are treated fairly.

What should I do if I feel I have already taken constructive dismissal?

If you feel that you have been the subject of constructive dismissal you may be able to seek financial compensation through an appeal to an employment tribunal. There are certain time limits and constraints to be taken into account. It would be beneficial to seek professional assistance and support when considering going through the process of an appeal hearing.

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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
While Edapt has sought to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date, it is not responsible and will not be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences, including any loss arising from relying on this information. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence. If you are an Edapt subscriber with an employment-related issue, please contact us and we will be able to refer you to one of our caseworkers.