UK: Breach of implied term of trust and confidence when false reason for employee’s dismissal given

Mr Rawlinson worked as legal counsel for the Brightside Group which had issues with his performance from the outset but did not raise its concerns with him. He had been employed for less than six months when Brightside decided to dismiss him but, to soften the blow, told him it was because his work would be carried out by an external service provider. When he asked questions about the transfer, on the basis he would be covered by TUPE, Brightside declined to comment. He then resigned with immediate effect on the basis that Brightside had breached the implied term of trust and confidence by failing to inform and consult with him about the transfer. He did not have two years’ service so could not bring an unfair dismissal claim.

The tribunal dismissed Mr Rawlinson’s claim for constructive wrongful dismissal. Mr Rawlinson then appealed to the EAT which agreed with the tribunal that the implied term did not give him the right to a fair dismissal procedure or to be told the real reason why he was being dismissed. However, the EAT found that the implied term obliges an employer to act in good faith and not to mislead employees – this did not mean employers are obliged to volunteer information, but if they do, this must be done in good faith.

Comment
Employers are not required to give a reason for dismissal to employees with less than two years’ service. However if they provide a reason for the dismissal which is misleading, they may be in breach of the implied term of trust and confidence and at risk of a claim for breach of contract.

This case illustrates that employers should not be lulled into a false sense of security when dismissing employees who do not have sufficient length of service to bring an unfair dismissal claim, because they may still be entitled to seek redress.

For more information on these articles or any other issues involving labour and employment matters in United Kingdom, please contact Robert Hill, Partner at Clyde & Co (www.clydeco.com) at robert.hill@clydeco.com
This entry was posted in Latest Case Law on and modified on .