Unfairly Dismissed – Can I refuse to return to work?

What happens if I am unfairly dismissed and after appealing my Employer says I can return to work but with a warning. Do I have to go back to work?

The simple answer is no you do not have to return to work. You can refuse to accept the warning and not return if you believe that you were unfairly dismissed in the first place. However the future effect on your refusal will depend upon what it says in the Employer’s appeal procedures.

If the appeal procedure states that the Employer can change a dismissal to a lesser penalty, such as a warning or demotion, then they can do so. If however you are unhappy about this and refuse to return to work you would be unlikely to succeed in a claim for unfair dismissal because the dismissal decision would have been rectified.

If the appeal procedure states that a lesser penalty can be imposed but with your consent, and you refuse then the dismissal decision will remain and you can pursue an unfair dismissal claim.

If I cannot claim that I have been unfairly dismissed and I do not want to go back what can I do?

You may still be able to pursue a claim for constructive unfair dismissal if you can show that the Employer’s conduct has resulted in a fundamental breach of your contract.

This means that the Employer’s behaviour has resulted in a significant breach that is integral to your employment contract, or which shows they no longer intend to be bound by the terms of your contract.

In this case you are effectively resigning your employment because of their behaviour rather than being unfairly dismissed.


What should I do next?

If you find yourself in the position where you have been unfairly dismissed and your Employer has offered you your job back, before making a decision you should get some advice about your situation and potential claims. You do not want to make a quick decision that could mean that you are out of work and have no claim for unfair dismissal or compensation.

2 thoughts on “Unfairly Dismissed – Can I refuse to return to work?

  1. Pat says:

    Iwas dismissed from my job. I appealed to the clerk to Govenors’ and the company has offered me my job back but I don’t want to return . What do I do?
    Advice please

    • Alison says:

      Dear Pat

      Thank you for your comment. If you do not wish to return to work then you do not have to but it could effect any claim for unfair dismissal. You could however have a separate claim for constructive unfair dismissal.

      I would be very happy to discuss your case with you if you would like some specific advice you can contact me on 023 8098 2006.

      Kind regards


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