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Employment law

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Introduction

It is normal for many of the obligations of an employer to his employees to be unspoken and not formally set out in their employment contracts. The law requires employers to give employees a written statement of basic employment particulars (ERA 1996 s.1 but no contract will, or could, include every term governing the relationship of the employee and employer. Many terms will simply be "implied". Some of these obligations will be imposed by statute (eg the Equal Pay Act 1970 implies an "equality clause" into every agreement under which an individual is employed in Great Britain unless there is an express equality clause - see Eq PA 1970 s.1(1) and Sex .Others obligations can be implied by custom, common law or trade usage (eg a right not to work on bank holidays can be implied by "custom of the trade") and all employers have a common law duty to provide a safe environment. A particularly important implied obligation is that of (mutual) trust and confidence. ...read more.

Middle

2002 High Court (QBD) on 29th July 2002). It has gradually become accepted by the courts that there is a duty of "trust and confidence" in employment contracts which can generally be automatically implied. This is of profound significance. In recent years the courts have used the idea of a breach of this implied duty to whittle away at the long accepted principle that an employer has no general contractual obligation to act "reasonably" towards his employers (for more detail see notes at Implied terms in employment contracts/duties of employer - good examples contrasting the old and new approaches are White v Reflecting Road Studs Ltd 1991 ICR 733, EAT on the one hand and Transco plc v O'Brien 2002 ICR 721, CA on the other). In addition, and separately, an employer owes his employees a common law duty of care to keep them adequately informed of the details of changes to their terms of employment which may follow from a company reorganisation and can be sued for the tort of negligence if he is in breach of that duty (see Hagen and ors v ICI Chemicals and Polymers Ltd and ors QBD 2002 IRLR 31, High Court QBD). ...read more.

Conclusion

It has been said that this term of mutual trust and confidence is an umbrella term to cover the whole of the employment contract where the employer acts with omissions or with negligence towards their employee's interests3. S.100 ERA 1996 states that an employee can leave the workplace and sue for unfair dismissal if there is a health and safety danger. The umbrella term of the duty applies to complaints being ignored by employers after being made by employee's4. This has been discussed in more detail by the EAT in the case of WA Goold (Pearmark) Ltd v McConnell5 which stated that the employer must give proper consideration and access to grievances. Smith and Woods goes further to states at P.233 The implied term of mutual trust and confidence has been expanded further with the ruling in Malik v BCCI6. The duty now extends outside of the existing employment relationship to cover future prospects of the employee after the existing employment relationship has ended. 1 (1978) ICR 221 2 Woods v WM Car Services (Peterbrough) (1981) IRLR 347 per Browne-Wilkinson J 3 BAC v Austin (1978) IRLR 332 4 Bracebridge Engineering v Darby (1990) IRLR 3 5 (1995) IRLR 516 6 (1997) IRLR 462 ...read more.

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