Constructive dismissal claims takes place when an employee is forced to leave the job as a result of their employer’s conduct. The employee must prove that the employer committed a serious breach of contract and that they felt forced to leave because of that breach and that they have not done anything to indicate that they have accepted this breach or a change in employment conditions.
Constructive dismissal claims are notoriously difficult to prove but you need to guard against them because if successful they can give rise to damages for wrongful dismissal and (after 12 months of employment) unfair dismissal.
What Can Employers Do To Guard Against Constructive Dismissal Claims?
One of the first things you should do is review your policies, management systems and procedures and ensure that you look after and engage your staff. By creating an open and transparent workplace, where everybody knows what they are doing, you are less likely to have to deal with difficult employees.
Create And Implement Staff Appraisals And KPI’s
Create and implement staff appraisals and KPIs if you haven’t already done so and look to brand your business as an open and progressive organisation. Your business will avoid problematic situations with staff by establishing and maintaining a positive and forward-thinking approach.
Ensure that you have sound internal policies and that your managers know how to deal with disciplinary and grievance procedures. Train your staff on regulatory procedures and other rules such as equal opportunities, and ensure that knowledge is shared across the organisation.
Quite often constructive dismissal claims in adverts and only arise by virtue of a failure to properly apply procedures. It is also worth reviewing the emotional intelligence of your line managers: do they need further training to develop their soft skills to sensitively deal with staff issues?
Create A Staff Handbook
Create a staff handbook which includes both internal policies and procedures together with the relevant legislative frameworks which apply to your organisation. Ensure that your handbook is clear, easy to use and up to date so that both staff and employees know what to do in any given situation.
Having a comprehensive and well drafted staff handbook will also put you in good stead if an issue does end up being heard before a tribunal.
Ensure that you carefully consider how best to structure and implement organisational change. Changing an employee status or duties can lead to a constructive dismissal situation. In particular you should seek specialist legal advice if you are thinking about changing an employee’s job location, title or terms and conditions of these are the most common areas which usually give rise to a claim.
Fair And Reasonable Approach
Adopt a fair and reasonable approach when making decisions about your staff. Always ensure that you consider the health, safety and welfare of your staff since issues which may cause stress or illness can result in a constructive dismissal situation.
Grievance procedures enable line managers to deal with potential issues objectively and support an employee who is unhappy with a specific situation.
Keep talking! Communicate with disgruntled employees and always try to amicably resolve or mediate a difficult situation. Even if your powers of persuasion do not ultimately work, a tribunal will take the historical conduct of an employer into account when making a decision.
Final Words: Protecting Your Business Against Constructive Dismissal Claims
We’ve given you a general overview of how to protect your business against constructive dismissal claims. One important way to do this is via a bespoke Staff Handbook and we can create this for you. Click below and order your customised Staff Handbook today, which will help reduce incidences of constructive dismissal claims in your business.