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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 48160
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I was caused stress and took an overdose as a result of a work

Resolved Question:

I was caused stress and took an overdose as a result of a work colleague calling me offensive names to 2 other colleagues when he thought I was out of earshot, when one of the others employees said I was coming back he said he didn't care and proceeded to 'sing' the insults again. He has admitted this to my employer and I have a text message from my employer to confirm this. I feel i can not return to work for my employer even when / if I get over the mental distress this has caused me.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.
Ben Jones : Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. What is your specific query about this situation?
Customer:

Am i entitled to constructive dismissal?

Customer:

Pls confirm u r still online

Customer:

Hello, r u there?

Ben Jones :

How long have you worked there for?

Customer:

Over 4 years

Ben Jones :

ok let me get my response ready please

Customer:

Ok, if not am I entitled to anything?

Customer:

??

Ben Jones :

This could potentially amount to constructive dismissal, which occurs when the following two elements are present:



  • Serious breach of contract by the employer; and

  • An acceptance of that breach by the employee, who in turn treats the contract of employment as at an end. The employee must act in response to the breach and must not delay any action too long.


A common breach by the employer occurs when it, or its employees, have broken the implied contractual term of trust and confidence. The conduct relied on could be a single act, or a series of less serious acts over a period of time, which together could be treated as serious enough (usually culminating in the 'last straw' scenario).

The affected employee would initially be expected to raise a formal grievance in order to officially bring their concerns to the employer's attention and give them an opportunity to try and resolve them. If the issues are so bad that the employee can't even face raising a grievance and going through the process, or if a grievance has been raised but has been unsuccessful, then they can consider resigning straight away.

If resignation appears to be the only option, it must be done without unreasonable delay so as not to give an impression that the employer's breach had been accepted. Any resignation would normally be with immediate effect and without providing any notice period. It is advisable to resign in writing, stating the reasons for the resignation and that this is being treated as constructive dismissal.

Following the resignation, the option of pursuing a claim for constructive dismissal exists. This is only available to employees who have at least 2 years' continuous service. There is a time limit of 3 months from the date of resignation to submit a claim in the employment tribunal.

An alternative way out is to approach the employer on a 'without prejudice' basis (i.e. off the record) to try and discuss the possibility of leaving under a settlement agreement. Under a settlement agreement, the employee gets compensated for leaving the company and in return promises not to make any claims against the employer in the future. It is essentially a clean break, although the employer does not have to agree to it so it will be subject to negotiation. In any event, there is nothing to lose by raising this possibility with them because you cannot be treated detrimentally for suggesting it and it would not be used against you.

Apart from constructive dismissal you are not entitled to anything else, you cannot just claim or ask for compensation for what happened and this would be the only avenue you can pursue.

Just to make a final, yet important point, that constructive dismissal can be a difficult claim to win as the burden of proof is entirely on the employee to show the required elements of a claim were present. Therefore, it should only be used as a last resort.


Customer:

Seems like a 'without prejudice' settlement would be the best option, what sort of compensation would seems reasonable, i.e. x number of weeks wages?

Ben Jones :

that is always difficult to advise on because it is not something you can force the employer to pay you and they will only agree on what they are prepared to pay, so you will have to find some middle ground regardless of what you think is reasonable - what you think i reasonable may not be what they think and they can easily refuse to agree on a sum, even if you think it is what you should get

Customer:

fair enough, but could I insist they take action against the employee based on the public order act of 1986?

Customer:

(S5) that is?

Customer:

Or can I take that action myself?

Ben Jones :

no you cannot, there is nothing stopping you from asking them to do that but you cannot force them to and the final decision rests with them Also you cannot take action yourself under the POA, this is dealt with by the police

Customer:

So no point contacting the police, they were involved in my attempted suicide and gave me a reference number?

Customer:

Guess that's not your legal remit to answer

Ben Jones :

they are unlikely to take this further I must admit, this is an issue that should be pursued through the employer and left for them to deal with

Customer:

Ok thanks, ***** ***** have to keep taking the sick pay n hope another job comes up. Tnks.

Ben Jones :

you are welcome, all the best

Customer:

Tnks. Pls finish so I can leave feedback :)

Ben Jones :

all done...in case it does not work (it is temperamental) you can just type up your rating here, thanks

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