Tuesday 4 September 2012

Constructive Dismissal

[Thanks to John Cook of SAS Daniels LLP for preparing this case summary]

In order for an employee to succeed in a claim of unfair constructive dismissal does the principal reason for the resignation need to be a fundamental breach of the contract of employment?

No, says the EAT in Logan v Celyn House Ltd.

The Claimant was employed as a veterinary nurse and resigned in response to a grievance decision which she found unsatisfactory. The grievance had involved a number of matters, including alleged bullying (which the employment tribunal had found was a figment of her imagination) and a failure to pay contractual sick pay (which the employment tribunal had found was a repudiatory breach of contract). The employment tribunal found that the principal reason for the resignation was the alleged bullying and not the sick pay matter and rejected a claim of constructive dismissal.

The EAT held that the employment tribunal had been wrong to look for the "principal reason" for the resignation. It should have asked itself whether the breach of contract involved in failing to pay the sick pay was a repudiatory breach and, if so, whether it was a reason for the resignation, not whether it was the principal reason. It was enough that the employee resigned, at least in part, in response to the fundamental breach of failing to pay contractual sick pay.

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