Constructive or unfair dismissal solicitors

We have helped over 3,000 employees across England and Wales with their employment law claims and we can help you too.

Can I claim compensation for unfair dismissal?

You can claim for constructive or unfair dismissal if you have been forced to resign by your employer’s unlawful behaviour.

Solicitor fees for constructive or unfair dismissal

Employment Solicitor fees for constructive or unfair dismissal start from £630 including VAT for an investigation report in which we review your documents and advise you on the prospects of your case succeeding.

We will agree our fixed Employment Solicitor fees with you upfront before any work starts. Once we have provided you with a written quote for the agreed work, that price will not change unless the original information we are given is shown to be incorrect or circumstances change.

Differences between constructive and unfair dismissal

A dismissal is when your employer ends your employment, with or without notice, either by not renewing your contract, or through their conduct.

Constructive dismissal is when you have been forced to resign with immediate effect as a result of a serious breach of contract by your employer.

To claim constructive dismissal you need to be able to prove that your employer made a serious breach of your contract. As a result of which you resigned with immediate effect.

An unfair dismissal is when you have been dismissed by your employer for reasons other than your:

  • capability
  • conduct
  • redundancy
  • a statutory duty or restriction that prohibited your employment from being continued
  • some other substantial reason

If you started your new employment after 6 April 2012, then you need to have been employed by your new employer for two years before you can claim unfair dismissal.

If you started before 6 April 2012, then you need to have been employed by your employer for only one year before you can claim unfair dismissal.

Not all dismissals are unfair. However, your employer has to prove to the Employment Tribunal that your dismissal was fair and within reason.

At Co-op Legal Services our Employment Solicitors only represent employees; we do not advise or represent employers.

Your help made a big difference to my ability to stand my ground with my employers. Thank you. (Miss A., Hertfordshire)

Customer testimonials

Can I get any interim compensation for dismissal?

Every case is different. That is why it's important to talk to us as soon as possible, so we can give you the employment law advice you need.

Time is of essence, by law, any employee thinking of making a claim at the Employment Tribunal must first notify ACAS with details of the claim. ACAS will then attempt a conciliation between you and your employer. If the conciliation fails, then the claim can progress to the Employment Tribunal.

Your claim for constructive dismissal is time-limited and there are statutory regulations regarding your compensation award, so it is best to get advice from expert Employment Lawyers about your constructive dismissal as early in the process as possible.

Failure from your employer to comply with ACAS’s Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures can increase your compensation by up to 25%, if you succeed in your claim for constructive dismissal. If the employee is responsible for the failure then an Employment Tribunal may reduce compensation by up to 25%.

Fixed fee employment law solicitors

Our Employment Law Solicitors have years of expertise dealing with complex constructive dismissal and unfair dismissal from work cases. We have a positive track record in resolving disputes on the best possible terms for our customers, and our fixed fee service starts from just £420 including VAT.

When you contact us we make an objective assessment of your case and will only process your claim if we believe it will have merit either with ACAS or with the Employment Tribunal.

Examples of employment law cases of unfair dismissal

These two examples are unfair dismissal cases dealt with by our Employment Solicitors. The first example looks at a dispute around whether there was unfair dismissal or a resignation. The second deals with whether an employee had been wrongly accused of gross misconduct, which she had then been dismissed for.

Unfair dismissal or resignation?

There is sometimes a dispute around whether an employee has resigned or been dismissed. Our employment solicitors helped a client in this situation.

Our client, Mr A, had been employed for 7 years when he became unwell because of stress at work.

Mr A had a Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA) and was told by his doctor that this was stress induced. Although Mr A was advised that his role had the benefit of a full contractual sickness pay, once he was signed off work he only received 1 week of full pay and then received statutory sick pay.

A heated discussion then occurred between Mr A and his employer. The employer alleged Mr A had said words to the effect of a resignation. The employer also alleged that Mr A agreed to leave his role at an undetermined future date, when it was convenient for the business.

After a further period of sickness Mr A again did not receive sick pay. When this was queried with his employer, he was informed that they had accepted his verbal resignation and this had been confirmed in a letter. Mr A had not received this letter.

We advised Mr A that he would have a potential claim in the Employment Tribunal (ET) for unfair dismissal, even though his employer would argue that he had resigned.

In this type of case, it is for the Employment Tribunal to decide on what was actually said during the discussion, using the verbal evidence from both the employee and the employer.

If the words or actions are found to be ambiguous, then the Employment Tribunal will apply an objective test based on the surrounding circumstances and the nature of the workplace. If after this test the Employment Tribunal still cannot decide on the intention of the parties, it will then assess how a reasonable employer or employee would have understood these words or conduct in light of the circumstances.

Employers and employees are generally able to rely on any words or actions that aren't ambiguous, with the exception of resignations made in the heat of the moment. The Employment Tribunal has realised that in these cases the words shouldn't be taken seriously by an employer.

In cases of resignations in the heat of the moment, the Employment Tribunal feels that an employee should be given a chance to cool off. It will be up to the employer to be sure of what the employee really intended by their words or actions. In a lot of these cases, it would be reasonable to expect a follow-up in writing, but this will not always happen. Each case will be determined on its own facts, so the credibility of each witness appearing before the Employment Judge will be key.

In MR A’s case we considered that, based on the available evidence, an Employment Tribunal would conclude he had been dismissed unfairly. The employer did not attempt to clarify the situation regarding whether Mr A had resigned or not during the altercation, and there was no follow-up correspondence.

Believing Mr A had prospects of succeeding in a claim, we began ACAS Early Conciliation on his behalf.

As part of this process we advised MR A on the likely compensation he would receive if successful at an Employment Tribunal. We took into account the fact that the Employment Tribunal could decide Mr A had contributed to his dismissal, and so might reduce his compensation to reflect this.

Using these figures we sought to negotiate with the employer during Early Conciliation. By setting out our position to the employer and confirming our intention to litigate if necessary, we secured an early settlement for Mr A, including a positive reference.

Mr A was happy and relieved that he would receive financial compensation without the need to go to an Employment Tribunal.

Gross misconduct and unfair dismissal

In this case Mrs B had been employed for around 3 years when she was dismissed for gross misconduct. Her employer argued that a series of actions cumulatively amounted to gross misconduct. These actions included:

  • Leaving lights on at the end of the day
  • Not completing a building check
  • Leaving keys in an unsecure location

For an employee to argue that their dismissal is unfair, they must have 2 years’ continuous service, which Mrs B had. (Although there are some exceptions to this 2 year rule, such as dismissals involving discrimination.)

Having reviewed Mrs B’s claim, our Employment Solicitors concluded that her dismissal was unfair and that an Employment Tribunal claim for unfair dismissal was likely to succeed.

When it comes to cases of alleged gross misconduct, there are some strict legal guidelines.

The burden is on the employer to prove, on the balance of probabilities, that there was a legally fair reason for the dismissal. If the employer does this successfully, the Employment Tribunal will then move on and consider the fairness of the dismissal in the circumstances. At this stage, the burden of proof is neutral and the Employment Tribunal will be guided by a 3 stage test:

Did the employer have a genuine belief that the misconduct occurred? Was that belief based on reasonable grounds? Did the employer carry out a reasonable investigation into the matter? There is an inevitable overlap between these 3 stages and failing one of these tests doesn't automatically mean the dismissal was unfair. The overall circumstances always need to be considered.

The Employment Tribunal will also consider whether the dismissal was a reasonable response by the employer.

In Mrs B’s case, our employment solicitors felt that the employer could show that they genuinely believed in the misconduct. We also considered that an Employment Tribunal would accept that the employer had reasonable grounds for that belief.

This stage of the test isn't about whether the misconduct happened or whether it was sufficient grounds for dismissal if it did, it is purely about the reason for the decision.

Where we felt Mrs B did have a case was in relation to the investigation. It was apparent that the employer did not speak to all those involved or seek witness statements from the relevant people. On this basis we did not consider the investigation to be reasonable.

In addition, we felt the decision to dismiss Mrs B was outside the range of reasonable responses.

The employer argued that when combined, each of the actions they had alleged amounted to gross misconduct, and that dismissal was justified. It was then for the Employment Tribunal to decide whether dismissal was a reasonable response. It is common for an Employment Tribunal to find that a dismissal decision is very harsh, but not unreasonable.

We concluded that the Employment Tribunal was unlikely to decide that dismissal was a reasonable response to the allegations. Mrs B had a clean disciplinary record, there was significant mitigation and none of the allegations were that serious on their own.

We were unable to reach a settlement during ACAS Early Conciliation (a prerequisite to lodging a claim) so drafted and submitted Mrs B’s claim to the Employment Tribunal. The employer than had 28 days to submit their response.

After the employer’s response to Mrs B’s claim was received, settlement negotiations began and Mrs B successfully settled her claim in return for financial compensation. Her claim was then withdrawn from the Employment Tribunal.

About Co-op Legal Services

Co-op Legal Services has over 600 staff working in different businesses with offices in Manchester, Bristol, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sheffield and London.

As part of the Co-op Group, our values of openness, honesty, social responsibility and caring for others are core to the service we provide.