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Decision warns that breach of “trust and confidence” not a label to used by employers when considering dismissal

Following on from my recent post last week on what constitutes a breach of trust in the employer employee relationship http://wp.me/p2ptoI-2D, I thought it useful to mention the UK case of Mr. Michael Leach and the Office of Communications (ofCom) [2012] EWCA Civ 959 where the Court of Appeal warned employers not to reach too quickly for the “breach of trust and confidence” label when considering the dismissal of an employee.Here the employer (ofCom) stated in their dismissal letter that the disclosure by the Police that the Claimant posed an ongoing threat to children led to a breakdown in the relationship of trust and confidence. The letter did not appear to go into any further detail in this regard.Although upholding the dismissal as fair, Lord Justice Mummery stated that the breach of the mutual duty of trust and confidence “is not a convenient label to stick on any situation in which the employer feels let down by an employee”. The Employment Appeals Tribunal had also warned in its decision what they had “observed a growing trend” in the “invocation of loss of trust and confidence as an automatic solvent of obligations” and stated quite clearly that it was not.It remains to be seen what the future caselaw trends will be both in the UK and Ireland around this ever growing area.

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