Joanne Stronach, Head of Employment and HR, considers the recent case of Rawlinson v Brightside Group Ltd.
Employers should be careful not to mislead an employee they wish to dismiss, even if it’s to soften the blow for the person losing their job.
Concealing information can lead to a claim for compensation, as the Brightside Group found out in a recent case before the Employment Appeal Tribunal.
It involved a company that decided to dismiss an employee after becoming dissatisfied with his performance. However, rather than setting out the performance issues, it told the employee that his duties were to be outsourced.
This was intended to “soften the blow” and ensure that he worked his full notice period of three months.
The misinformation led the employee to believe that he should transfer to the new provider under TUPE arrangements and that the company had failed to comply with its duties to inform and consult him. He resigned when the company refused to provide him with details of the ‘new provider’ who didn’t, in fact, exist.
When the truth eventually emerged, the employee took legal action to recover the three months’ notice pay that he had lost by resigning. The Employment Appeal Tribunal found in his favour.
An employer should always give the true reason for a dismissal, however unpalatable it may be, as the implied term of trust and confidence requires that the employer should not mislead the employee. It can also result in a claim for unfair dismissal if the employee has sufficient length of service as there will not be a true fair reason for dismissal given.
Please contact Joanne Stronach, Head of Employment and HR if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.