In a 21 December 2021 judgment, the High Court of Justice of Cantabria(1) had to determine whether the disciplinary dismissal of an employee who had used his company meal card during leave periods was justified.

The meal card was provided by the company for work-related expenses. The employee used this card while on sick and annual leave without the company's knowledge or consent. Further, he was aware that the company did not allow this.

The company proceeded to dismiss the employee for breach of contractual good faith, and the employee contested this.

The first-instance ruling declared the dismissal as fair – a decision that was then appealed by the employee on the grounds that the company had authorised the use of the card, as they had not deactivated it during the leave periods.

The Court maintained that the employee's behaviour constituted a violation of the contractual good faith provided for in article 54.2(d) of the Workers' Statute. The Court recalled in its ruling that such a violation of contractual good faith goes against the obligations on good behaviour that govern work performance and the relationship between both parties.

The Court declared as proven that the employee had knowingly and repeatedly used the card, as he had to check first that the card had been activated before proceeding to charge any expenses while on leave, and that the company had informed him that he would need clearance to do so. Therefore, the employee was aware that it was forbidden to use the card while on leave, regardless of the fact that it had not been disactivated – a fact that the Court considered a mistake on the company's part.

In light of the above, the Court considered that the employee had violated the good faith bond set out in his contract, even though this can be broken involuntarily and without wilful intent (ie, negligence) when the event is serious and inexcusable.

Therefore, the Court upheld the lower court's decision and declared the dismissal of the employee as fair.

For further information on this topic please contact César Navarro or Eva Ceca at CMS Albiñana & Suarez de Lezo by telephone (+34 91 451 9300) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The CMS Albiñana & Suarez de Lezo website can be accessed at


(1) [ECLI: ES:TSJCANT:2021:933].