Q&A - Constructive Dismissal or Unfair Dismissal? What is the difference?

Q:    Since returning to work after being furloughed during the COVID lockdown, everything changed, and I became increasingly unhappy in my job. I felt like I was trying to do my job and they were not letting me. A few weeks ago, it all came to a head, and basically, I was “let go” after a row with management, during which I was accused of having become too difficult to continue my employment with them. I was so upset that I walked out. When I tried to return, I was told my job was gone. Have I got a case for Constructive or Unfair Dismissal, and what is the difference?

A:     Constructive dismissal is a form of Unfair Dismissal. It happens following a “forced” resignation.  For example: your terms and conditions are changed so fundamentally that you feel you cannot continue; health and safety reasons force you to resign; there are a series of incidents which you feel are directed at you, and the last one forces you to resign. For example, your employer failed to pay you or demoted you for no reason or forced you to accept unreasonable changes to the way you worked, or they turned a blind eye to other employees harassing or bullying you.

Unfair Dismissal would be if your employer did not have a good reason for dismissing you or had failed to follow the company’s formal disciplinary or dismissal process. Some examples of this might be if you were dismissed because you requested to change to flexible working, or you refused to give up your working time rights or joined a trade union. There are however many more situations that could be classed as Unfair Dismissal.

The immediate advice here would be not to resign – the actions appear to have been a dismissal by your employer. You need to make an urgent appointment with an employment lawyer or your trade union to discuss the full facts of your case.

Article 05/07/2021

This question has been answered by Robert Williams, a Partner with GHP Legal.  If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients.  In accordance with government guidelines, some of our lawyers are currently working remotely which means you may not now receive a response as promptly as you may expect. Please kindly bear with us and we will respond as soon as we are able.

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James Denton

James Denton


Solicitor in our Civil Litigation team in the Oswestry and Wrexham offices.

Robert Williams

Robert Williams

Partner and Complaints Handler

Partner and Head of the Civil Litigation, Personal Injury and Dispute Resolution team in Wrexham