BLOG | APRIL 27, 2020

A Substantive Change to Your Employment Contract Might Be a Ground for a Constructive Dismissal

If your employer unilaterally makes fundamental changes to your work conditions that go to the heart of your employment contract, such changes may potentially amount to a constructive dismissal. The examples of the fundamental changes are change to the work hours or work location, lowering wages or compensation, alteration of job duties, a demotion, hostile and toxic work environment.

Generally, if a person voluntarily resigns from work there is no entitlement to a severance pay or any other compensation. However, if employee’s resignation was triggered by an unfair or harsh treatment from their employer, such individual can be deemed constructively dismissed and entitled to a financial compensation. Nonetheless, the decision to resign should not be made lightly, as the employment changes that you have experienced may not amount to a strong claim for a constructive dismissal. Therefore, it is important to obtain a legal advice before any decision is made.

Currently, a significant number of people are facing substantial changes in their employment as a result of the Covid-19. In many instances the work hours are substantively reduced, job duties changed and the financial compensation lowered. At the same time some employees asked to attend their work during the quarantine. In light of the current crisis, the government implemented mandatory quarantine requirements for all non-essential businesses. Therefore, if your place of employment does not fall in a category of essential businesses you should be complying with the quarantine requirements by staying at home. However, even if your place of employment is an essential business your employer still needs to comply with safety requirements that would allow you to perform your job duties safely.

Also, some people experience significant challenges at their work places, as they do not receive the necessary personal protective equipment that would allow performing their job duties safely. Others cannot come to work, as their children are off school and there is no one who can take care of them. Despite the fact that this crisis is unprecedented and there are no clear guidelines for the employers on how to act, they are still required to accommodate their employees, provide safe work environment and not to discriminate based on the family status.

If you were subjected to an unfair treatment during the Covid-19 that exposes you to a health risk or discrimination you might have grounds for a constructive dismissal claim.  

Authored by: Alona Semichenko, Student-at-Law

Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

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