In the case of Mrs S Logan v Celyn House Ltd, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) held that the Employment Tribunal (ET) had been wrong to look for a “principal reason” for the claimant’s resignation as part of a constructive dismissal claim.
Mrs Logan was employed as a veterinary nurse by Celyn House Ltd (the company). Her contract stated that she was entitled to four weeks sick pay at normal basic pay. In 2010, Mrs Logan was certified off sick from 2 June 2010 and remained off sick until she resigned. On 1 July 2010, Mrs Logan wrote to the company querying her June salary and why there was a shortfall. Mrs Logan then raised a number of grievances including alleged bullying and a failure to pay her sick pay. Mrs Logan’s grievances were not upheld. Mrs Logan appealed and by letter dated 6 September 2010, her appeal was rejected. By letter dated 13 September 2010 she resigned and brought a claim for constructive unfair dismissal.
The ET found that the alleged bullying was a figment of her imagination but the failure to pay sick pay was a repudiatory breach of contract. However, the ET found that the principal reason for the resignation was the alleged bullying and not the failure to pay sick pay and rejected her claim for constructive dismissal.
The EAT overturned this, finding that the ET had been wrong to focus on the principal reason for dismissal. It was sufficient that the failure to pay the sick pay had been one of the employee's reasons for resigning. This decision is in accordance with the Court of Appeal’s decision in Nottinghamshire County Council v Meikle, which held that the resignation must be in response to the employer's repudiation, but that the fact that the employee also objected to other actions of the employer will not vitiate the acceptance of the repudiation. Therefore, the employee must resign in response, at least in part, to the employer's fundamental breach of contract, but it does not have to be the effective cause of the resignation.