Whilst Spanish employers are entitled to ask employees to enter into confidentiality agreements to protect the business’ confidential information, it seems they are not entitled to dismiss any employees who refuse to do so. A Spanish Court recently ruled that this was not serious enough to justify dismissal and held that the employer should have imposed a lesser disciplinary sanction.

In the same matter, the Court held that the employee’s refusal to undergo a medical examination at its request was also not sufficient to justify his dismissal. This aspect of the decision is less surprising because under Spanish law employees can only be required to have a medical examination where they have been absent from work due to ill-health or the nature of their job could pose a risk to their health. Neither circumstance applied here and so the dismissal was understandably held to be unfair.

Whilst the confidentiality agreement aspect of the ruling may be appealed to the Superior Court of Justice, it highlights the importance of imposing the correct disciplinary sanction when dealing with misconduct issues - going in too strong could result in any dismissal being ruled unfair.