The Court of Appeal ruled in the case of Leach v Office of Communications, that a breakdown of trust amounted to ‘some other substantial reason’ for dismissing an employee in a case where the employing body had duties in relation to children and had received police information that the employee was considered a threat to children.
What does this mean?
A breakdown of trust may amount to a fair reason for dismissing an employee but it will depend on the facts of the case. The Court stressed that this could not be used as a convenient label to stick on any situation where the employer feels let down by an employee.
What should employers do?
When acting on third party information, including police information, about an employee’s alleged wrongdoing, employers should adopt a probing and critical approach to the information in any disciplinary investigation if the employee does not admit the alleged conduct. Specific legal advice will be wise when dismissing for the “some other substantial reason” category, particularly when breakdown of trust is in issue.