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Three employee stories that illustrate what the law means by 'constructive dismissal'

by , 03 September 2014
Constructive dismissal is when your employee terminates his contract of employment with or without notice because you as an employer is making it unbearable to continue to work in your company. In this case, the law considers you to have dismissed him.

Sound complicated?

If so, keep reading to discover three employee stories that illustrate what the law means by 'constructive dismissal' so you'll avoid constructive dismissal claims.


These three employee stories show what the law means by 'constructive dismissal'
 

#1: You fail to pay Mthu his salary

Let's say you're expecting a big order of supplies and you'll have to pay for them on delivery.

As your cash flow is tight, you pay all your employees their salaries except Mthu. His salary is the highest so you use the unpaid salary money to pay for your order.

If Mthu resigns and refers a constructive dismissal dispute to the CCMA, you're highly likely to lose the case.

 
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 #2: You victimise John in retribution or coerce him

Let's say you assign unreasonable targets to John after he refuses to accept a demotion. John get's overwhelmed by everything and he resigns.

In this case, the CCMA will rule against you. It'll say, setting unrealistic targets is unfair and John's resignation amounts to constructive dismissal.

#3: You allow smoking in the workplace in breach of legislation and you make Sandy's allergic condition worse

Sandy, your new employee is allergic to cigarette smoke. You're aware of this, but you allow smoking to continue in your workplace.

This affects Sandy's health and aggravates her allergy. As a result, she resigns after a very short period of service and claims a constructive dismissal.

In this case, the courts will rule that you constructively dismissed Sandy and there's a big chance you'll be ordered to pay her compensation.

We hope these three stories have made it clear what the law means by 'constructive dismissal'. Our advice is to always be fair and never make it unbearable for your employee to continue to work in your company.
 

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