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Forced resignation, also known as constructive dismissal, is an unfortunately prevalent issue in the lives of many working Kiwis. Employment New Zealand describes this as when an employer’s action or inaction makes the situation at work so intolerable for the employee that the employee resigns.

There are a few groups that victims of forced resignation fall into:

  • An employer has the employee choose between resigning from the role or dismissal
  • An employer pressures the employee to resign, be it directly or indirectly
  • An employer has behaved so negatively (i.e. through breaching the employment agreement or the employee being treated highly unfairly) that the employee feels they cannot continue working.

Although the employer may not specifically aim for the employee to resign, they must still be held accountable for actions or lack of action resulting in the employee’s resignation, particularly when the resignation of the employee has been foreseeable.


As always, it is preferable if a dispute or grievance can be handled peacefully between the employer and the offended party. If the issue has been raised by the employee to the employer in order to seek resolution and no appropriate action has been taken, the employee is encouraged to “raise a personal grievance for unjustified disadvantage and claim for eg lost remuneration and for humiliation, loss of dignity, and injury to feelings.”

It’s important to submit the claim within 90 days following the incident causing grievance occurred or was first observed by the employee.

Dismissed provides comprehensive care to protect employees in the event that their employer doesn’t act with their best interests, contributing to or causing an employee to resign. Get in touch with one of our trusted team members to ensure your protection today.


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Constructive Dismissal – What Is Forced Resignation?

Constructive dismissal, also known as forced resignation, is defined by Employment New Zealand as a situation “where an employee feels they have no choice but to resign”.

It’s hard to know what it looks like when you’re being pushed into constructive dismissal by an employer. As hard as it can be to think about, sometimes Kiwis go from difficult job to difficult job with consistently strenuous work relationships. This can make it tough to identify if what you are experiencing is workplace harassment.

You need to know your rights as an employee, and if what you are experiencing at work is so severe you are pushed to resign, you need to fight to have those rights honoured. Everyone deserves to feel safe and secure in the workplace, knowing that their role is protected even if employers seem to be working tirelessly to dismiss this.

What Does Constructive Dismissal Look Like?

There are many ways that constructive dismissal can manifest in the workplace:

  • An employee is given unproductive or unpleasant work with malicious intent
  • An employee has been pressured under a lot of stress to work excessive hours
  • An employer fails to pay an employee’s remuneration repeatedly
  • An employee is moved from a permanent contract to a casual one, resulting in the employee no longer being able to provide for themselves
  • The employee’s hours have been drastically reduced by the employer without the employee’s agreement.

Unfortunately, you can’t predict if an employer might behave unfairly towards you when you are employed. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re covered by a trusted employment insurance provider.

Where an employer has breached your rights it is important to call upon the employer to remedy that breach and to warn that if it does not then you will be forced to resign in protest. These steps are a very important if an employee wishes to succeed with any constructive dismissal claim.

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A member of The Employment Law Institute of New Zealand. ELINZ Represents Employment Law Professionals Nationwide.