Employer’s attempt to ‘soften the blow of dismissal’ backfires
Published: 21 February 2018
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 seen in recent case before the Employment 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
This was intended to "soften the blow" and ensure
that he worked his full notice period of 3 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 3 months’ notice pay that he had lost by resigning.
The case went all the way to the Employment Appeal Tribunal,
which found in his favour. It held that it was true that an employer had no
duty to tell an employee of the reason for his dismissal. However, if it elected
to give a reason, the implied term of trust and confidence required that it
should not mislead the employee.
The employee’s claim for damages should therefore succeed.
Please contact Matthew Sigsworth in our Dispute Resolution
Team if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article
or any aspect of Employment Law.