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Constructive dismissal


Constructive dismissal arises where you terminate your contract of employment, with or without prior notice, due to the conduct of your employer. Your employer's conduct however must have been such that it would have been reasonable for you to terminate your contract without giving notice.

If you are dismissed you may, under certain conditions, bring a claim for unfair dismissal against your employer. If you do this and your employer accepts that there was a dismissal, it will be for your employer to show that there were fair grounds for the dismissal. Generally a dismissal is presumed to be unfair unless your employer can show substantial grounds to justify it.

However, if you terminate your employment and you claim constructive dismissal under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977-2007 it will be for you to prove that your resignation was justified.

If you are found to have been unfairly dismissed you may be placed back in your job or more commonly, you may receive compensation for the loss of earnings caused by the dismissal.


In general, you must have 12 months' continuous service with your employer to bring a claim for unfair dismissal. Under the unfair dismissals legislation in certain cases the 12 months' service is not a requirement.

If you wish to make a claim you should do so within 6 months of the date of the termination of employment. This time limit may be extended to 12 months in cases where exceptional circumstances have prevented the lodgement of the claim within 6 months.

You are entitled to regard your contract as terminated if:

  • Your employer's conduct amounts to an actual breach of the contract of employment or, although it falls short of such a breach, is serious enough to warrant your resignation
  • Your employer's conduct shows that he/she no longer intends to be bound by one or more of the essential terms of the contract
  • Your employer has acted unreasonably

Conduct by fellow employees that goes unchecked by your employer may also be taken into account in relation to constructive dismissal.

You should also note the following points:

  • In a constructive dismissal situation it is for you to prove that your resignation was justified
  • You should use any complaints or grievance procedure that is available to you before resigning
  • You should also consider using any outside industrial relations procedures available to you before resigning
  • You should seek detailed advice before leaving as this is a complex area of law
  • You should only resign as a last resort after having used all available means of resolving the problem

How to apply

If you qualify under the unfair dismissals legislation, you may bring your claim to a Rights Commissioner. If you or your employer object to the claim being being heard by a Rights Commissioner the claim may be made directly to the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT). You make a claim by completing the new online complaint form (available by selecting ‘Make a complaint in relation to employment rights’ on

Where a claim is heard by the Employment Appeals Tribunal, the Tribunal will issue a determination. There is a right of appeal by either party to the Circuit Court from a determination of the Tribunal.

You can find an explanatory booklet on the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977-2007 (pdf) on

For more information in order to seek redress under the Acts contact Workplace Relations Customer Services.

Where to apply

Workplace Relations Customer Services

Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
O'Brien Road

Opening Hours: Mon. to Fri. 9.30am to 5pm
Tel: (059) 917 8990
Locall: 1890 80 80 90

Page updated: 3 November 2014



Related Documents

  • Unfair dismissal
    This describes how employees are protected under the unfairs dismissals legislation: who is covered, who is excluded and how to make a claim for unfair dismissal.
  • Fair grounds for dismissal
    In most cases a dismissal is presumed to be unfair unless the employer can show that there were fair grounds for the dismissal
  • Bullying in the workplace
    The law protects employees against bullying in the workplace. Explanation of the law and what your rights are if you believe you are being bullied at work

Contact Us

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