The following Employment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:
Every contract of employment is treated as containing an imposed term of trust and confidence. This requires employers and employees not to conduct themselves, without reasonable and proper cause, in a manner calculated or likely to destroy or seriously damage the relationship of confidence and trust between employer and employee. The term can affect every aspect of the relationship between employer and employee and creates a 'catch all' means of describing unreasonable conduct in employment. It is a two-way duty, binding on both employer and employee.
Mutual trust and confidence has two different strands:
treating each other with respect and civility
not treating each other in a wholly unreasonable manner (it is not possible to say there is a positive duty to act reasonably)
Not all forms of unreasonable behaviour would be a breach of this term. It must be sufficiently bad that it would destroy or seriously damage the relationship of trust and confidence, not merely something that would irritate or cause a minor problem. However, bad behaviour in an extremely wide variety of acts or omissions can be a breach of the trust and confidence:
failing to make a reasonable adjustment required by the disability discrimination legislation
failing to notify an employee who was on maternity leave of a job vacancy for which she would have applied had she known of it
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