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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50209
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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I have worked as a court based social social worker with the

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I have worked as a court based social social worker with the same organisation since 2002. The workload has increased over the last few years. Since July of this year in particular I am being allocated cases when I'm already inundated with work. This causes me significant stress, impacts on my family life as I am working late evenings and weekends and makes it very difficult for me to carry out my role effectively. I have complained to my line manager but he just says 'you will have to manage as best you can'. I enjoy the work but can't tolerate the workload anymore and I am looking to leave. I don't want to take out a grievance as I think this will cause me problems in the workplace and would affect any reference. If I leave would I have a claim for constructive dismissal?
Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How do you think a grievance would affect your references?


Well I just think a grievance would cause problems for me in terms of my current relationship with managers and I would not trust that any reference would be entirely objective and not be influenced by any formal complaint that I pursued. I think the managers all stick together and I cant help feeling pursuing a grievance would be a wast of time


I just think a grievance would be held against me one way or another and could make it difficult for me if I wanted to move on and change jobs

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).

In terms of stress in the workplace, a good starting point is to look at The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and related statutory instruments, which impose a general duty on employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all their employees. This includes a duty to undertake risk assessments and manage activities to reduce the incidence of stress at work. In addition, under common law an employer owes a duty of care towards its employees, the breach of which can amount to negligence and breach of this term of trust and confidence.

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, believes it would be pointless 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.

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.

Hope this clarifies your position? If you could please let me know that would be great, thank you




I am trying to read your answer but getting a very narrow screen so I answered to see if this resolves the problem

Ben Jones :

ok no problem, has that resolved the issues you had?


I was able to read the answer when I accessed the site via my email. Not sure why this has happened. Thanks for you answer it clarifies matter.

Ben Jones :

Thanks for letting me know and all the best

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