Where an employer upheld an employee’s grievance against his immediate manager, the employer was entitled to rely on this as a defence to the employee’s claim that his line manager had breached the implied term of trust and confidence. An employer can effectively prevent an escalation of a situation into such a breach by taking steps to apologise for and move on from the situation.
In this case, where an employer took on board an employee’s comments as to the ‘spurious’ disciplinary process undertaken by his immediate manager, this went some way towards diffusing a potential breach of trust and confidence situation.
Such an ‘olive branch’ can only rescue an employer before the relationship ‘goes over the edge’. It cannot rescue a relationship once it has reached the point where there has been a breach of trust and confidence.
Employers should be mindful that the grievance procedure can be used as a positive tool. In situations where line managers are perhaps failing, more senior managers can use any grievance lodged to rectify the situation providing there hasn’t already been a breach of trust and confidence.
Assamoi –v- Spirit Pub Company (2012)