toggle menu
Menu
Contact Us

5 Top Tips on avoiding constructive dismissal claims

26th Aug 2016
Employee Engagement, Employment Law, Human Resources, Leadership

When an employee is left feeling that they have no other choice than to leave their job due to their employer’s behaviour, you’re on course for a constructive dismissal claim.  If the employee can prove that their employer’s behaviour was a fundamental breach of contract, in effect forcing them to resign, they may have a case and furthermore, if they’ve been there more than 2 years, could progress a claim for unfair dismissal.

So, here’s some key examples of what may prompt an employee to make a claim:

  • Unfounded allegations of poor performance
  • A reduction of pay or not being paid at all
  • Bullying or harassment
  • Failure to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate a disability
  • Breach of health and safety laws

Claims for constructive dismissal can be costly, not only financially but also in management time, staff morale and reputation.

You can avoid these claims and manage them more effectively if they come your way by taking on board these 5 top tips.

As a bonus, they can also boost performance and motivation, which will positively affect your bottom line. Winner.

Get your house in order

Comprehensive, up to date policies and a handbook, accessible to all, will ensure that everyone knows exactly where they stand and what to expect.  It is not enough to merely plonk a new recruit in front of your handbook on their first day, expecting them to absorb (let alone grasp the sentiment of) all that good stuff and retain it for the duration of their employment.  For one thing, as the company evolves, so do its policies and procedures, in addition to this there will be oodles of changes to employment law and best practice.  It is a valuable exercise to actively revisit policies and procedures periodically with managers and then roll them out again to the team(s). Moreover, take the opportunity for engagement, feedback and contributions.

Accepting there is no such thing as ‘no risk’, a well written, clear, up to date handbook is likely to be valued by staff, looked upon favourably by a tribunal chair, as well as solicitors or other advisors. It indicates that you have your house in order and know what you are doing. You’re now in ‘low risk’ territory. Demonstrating how this is communicated also key.

D & G

That’s disciplinary and grievance not Dolce and Gabbana.  It is not advisable to merely ‘go through the motions’ of following your disciplinary and grievance procedures.  Train managers to fully understand, not only the procedures but also, the reality of dealing with people. Ensuring your leaders have the confidence, sensitivity and diplomacy to deal with situations appropriately and professionally pays dividends.  Don’t just ignore issues, take the time to discuss grievances and invoke the disciplinary procedure to maintain standards and expectations.  Getting to the nub of the grievance by dealing with it appropriately using your policies and procedures is vital in order to avoid a constructive dismissal claim or strengthen the company’s position should a claim be made.


Book a Free Online Toolkit Demo if you need advice about dismissing staff.

If you can spare 30-minutes, book a free demo of our Online HR Toolkit. Complete the form below to find out more about our hassle-free service.

Performance Management

Effective performance management that drives the right behaviours in a business should be a continual process, not just once a year at appraisal time.  By weaving an effective performance management process into a regular weekly or monthly routine, everyone will know the standards and expectations upon them and their colleagues and they will be far less likely to feel aggrieved and take formal action.  Ad hoc, emotionally charged performance discussions can lead to employees (at any grade) feeling humiliated. Being overly critical, without reason and evidence, is unlikely to lead to increased productivity; it may well however lead to a constructive dismissal claim.  Therefore, training managers on how to implement an effective performance management process, having difficult conversations and providing constructive feedback is essential.

‘It’s good to talk’

Clear, concise, honest two way communication goes a long way to building an engaged, motivated team.  Engaged employees who understand their role in the organisation and who feel they are part of the solution rather than the problem, are much more likely to be happier and more productive at work. Therefore, less likely to become disgruntled and claim constructive dismissal.  Developing effective communication channels so that employers and employees can regularly communicate, update and exchange ideas will not only lead to better relationships, increase creativity and innovation, it enables employers to nip potential issues in the bud, before they escalate into formal grievances.

 “That is SO UNFAIR!”    

Ask yourself, ‘would you like it if someone was treating you or your loved one in the manner you are treating a colleague right now?’  If the answer is no, the chances are you are not being fair and reasonable.   Treating all employees fairly, consistently, ensuring their health and well-being is key to avoiding constructive dismissal claims.  To be super clear on what’s is fair, you should take the time to ‘gen up’ on the Equality Act 2010 as there are further obligations on the employer for employees with some additional needs, such as making reasonable adjustments. Taking the time to read case law and outcomes also gives you an evidence based and better sense of what is required by a Tribunal. For example, when considering if an employer has acted reasonably, a tribunal is likely to take into account whether the company’s policies and procedures covered the situation, whether the employee was aware and whether the employer followed their own procedures.  So perhaps it is time to dust off that trusty old handbook! We refer you to Top Tip 1.

You may have an HR Team, you may not, you may have one so busy that you need a hand sorting this all out and putting your reviews and ideas into action. If you would like to discuss this, or any of the situations we cover in our articles, feel free to contact us. We offer free consultations. When you’re ready call  and see how MAD-HR can fit in and work with your teams to protect your business, saving you time, money and worry.

The Toolkit Tour

Take the MAD-HR Toolkit Tour

An affordable, comprehensive HR portal. Access all the latest documents you need as an employer.

Book Demo
Christopher Durand
Christopher Durand
14:28 23 Aug 18
We have used MAD-HR a number of times and I have been very impressed by their knowledge and expertise, which is invaluable for us a small and growing business. All the work they have done for us, and this includes not just contracts and handbooks etc, but also training to make us a better more thoughtful team, I regard as a sound business and personal investment. We intend to make this an on-going relationship to help us develop as a business.read more
Aisleen Marley
Aisleen Marley
14:48 24 Oct 17
Carole immediately grasped my situation and quickly set about creating the perfect document to help drive my business forward. She has a wealth of experience that she was able to apply to my current and future business goals in order to come up with the goods! The process itself was extremely straightforward with a clear system for booking in a call with Carole, where she then talked me through my options. Thoroughly recommended.read more
Rachael Martin
Rachael Martin
19:40 03 Jul 17
Carol offers outstanding support and advice to ensure you are meeting legal requirements. Her toolkit is a very worthwhile investment as it ensures your documentation is up to scratch and you have all that you need in place! Highly recommended - outstanding service.read more
ClarkeCare Ltd
ClarkeCare Ltd
14:03 22 Jun 17
I recently attended a Suffolk Brokerage Registered managers meeting and the very lovely Charlotte from MAR HR was there to give a presentation. Charlotte was fantastic and delivered a great presentation. Her knowledge around all things HR where clearly evident and she answered some tricky questions really well, giving clear, helpful advice. I would highly recommend anyone thinking of gaining support for their business to speak to Charlotte. I know we at ClarkeCare will be engaging their services in the near future. Thank you Charlotte :-)read more
Hana Dickinson
Hana Dickinson
10:36 26 Jul 16
I love working with Carole and the team at MAD-HR. They are so knowledgeable and responsive. I feel really confident that my HR (and therefore my business) is in safe hands. We've had a few issues that we've needed help with and Carole has been right there, with great advice and useful resources (via the Online HR Toolkit) that have made my life so much easier and my blood-pressure so much lower. Thanks Carole and team. You rock!read more
Next Reviews

Brilliant service and advice from MAD-HR.   Thank you so much, you’ve made the process of taking on our first employee an absolute breeze! Highly recommended.