Happy birthday, Yaya Toure!

This week, Dimitri Seluk (agent to Manchester City star Yaya Toure) stated that the player might leave Manchester City because the club's owners showed him a lack of respect on his 31st birthday, apparently ignoring him when the squad arrived in the United Arab Emirates to celebrate their Premier League title triumph.

Does this mean that employers might have a potential constructive unfair dismissal claim hanging over their heads if they fail to wish an employee happy birthday? In short, the answer is no.

An employee is constructively dismissed where an employer commits a repudiatory breach of contract (i.e. a significant breach going to the root of the contract of employment) and the employee resigns within a reasonable time in response to that breach. In this case, failure to wish an employee happy birthday (unless it is part of a wider campaign of harassment or bullying) would not be considered a repudiatory breach of contract entitling the employee to resign and claim constructive dismissal.

Commentators have suggested that Toure’s expression of disappointment with the club’s owners was merely a tactic aimed at increasing his earnings after a hugely successful season.
William Bishop