In a big legal win for employees, the Federal Court confirmed last week there is a duty on employers to maintain a relationship of trust and confidence with employees.
In particular, this means employers must first try to redeploy staff before making them redundant if this is a requirement of the job contract.
While it seems obvious to any reasonable person that this should already be the case, it took this major case against the Commonwealth Bank to confirm the principle.
Stephen Barker was an executive manager employed by the bank who was made redundant. The Court found the bank failed to comply with Mr Barker’s contract of employment by neglecting to first take steps to find him an alternative position and was awarded $335,623.57 in damages.
Some examples of conduct that Courts have found breach the duty of trust and confidence include:
- Failing to take steps to redeploy employees
- Unfairly demoting employees
- Making unjustified accusations of theft or dishonesty
- Unfairly conducting disciplinary investigations
- Publishing false statements after terminating an employee
- Unreasonably awarding or denying performance based remuneration.
>> Contact our Member Assist helpline immediately if any of these issues affect you – ph 1300 322 917