Trust and Confidence – what does it really mean, and what happens when it breaks down?

We look at the Implied Terms in your contract of employment that are probably not written down anywhere, but are understood to exist because of the conduct of the parties, which includes Trust and Confidence. They should be fairly obvious to both parties to the contract. If there’s nothing clearly agreed between you and your employer about a particular matter, then it may be covered by an implied term.

Terms are implied into a contract in order to make the contract work, because they are obvious and by custom and practice.

One of the most important implied terms is that of the ‘duty of mutual trust and confidence’. This means that you and your employer rely on each other to be honest and respectful and should not, without reasonable and proper cause, conduct yourselves in a manner calculated to destroy or seriously damage the mutual relationship of confidence and trust between you. We look at what this means in our article here.

n a 2013 case, St Francis Hospice v Burn, an Employment Tribunal found that the Employer acted unreasonably when it refused the employee’s request to be allowed to be accompanied at a meeting with the management. This was not part of a disciplinary or grievance meeting where there is a statutory right to be accompanied. The Employer appealed and the Employment Appeal Tribunal agreed with the Tribunal – that by refusing the employee to be accompanied the Employer had breached the implied term of trust and confidence in all circumstances. This case is very fact specific bu the employee had had an extensive period of sickness absence and was highly anxious about attending the meeting; her GP had supported her request to be accompanied and the Tribunal found that her concerns were genuine.

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