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A constructive dismissal is where an employee resigns because of some very serious action or failure to act by the employer which causes the employee to reasonably believe that continuation of employment is impossible.  

A very serious negative change to your contract that is imposed unilaterally (i.e. without your agreement) by your employer, or a refusal by your employer to improve intolerable working conditions, could be justifiable grounds for resignation triggering a potential claim for constructive dismissal. Every case depends on its own unique facts, as everybody’s situation is different.  

In the majority of cases, you will need two years of continuous service to bring your claim. There are, however, exceptions. For example, no service is needed to bring a claim where you resigned because of unlawful discrimination.  

Resigning and claiming constructive dismissal is a very high-risk strategy, so unless your conditions have become intolerable, you should explore other ways of resolving the situation first. In any event, you should always take careful advice before deciding to walk out of your job.  

Even if you win a claim of constructive unfair dismissal, compensation awards are nowhere near as high as many people think. The median award for unfair dismissal in 2019-20 was just £6,646. Very strict time limits apply. Also note that Acas early conciliation applies to all tribunal claims.  

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.
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