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Archive for July, 2012

Ruling confirms that an employee who takes preliminary steps towards setting up in competition with his employer is not necessarily guilty of gross misconduct.

The employees in this case had put together a detailed plan for a business competing with their employer, making use of knowledge and expertise acquired in the course of their employment.

Upon learning of their plans the employer held disciplinary hearings and then summarily dismissed them for gross misconduct. The dismissal letters stated that they were dismissed for planning to set up in competition, using company resources in connection with their business plans and breaching their obligation of trust and confidence. In response they brought claims for unfair dismissal.

They lost their unfair dismissal claims and appealed.

On appeal, the Employment Appeal Tribunal, said that it is not in itself gross misconduct for an employee to make preparations for a future business. Nor is every piece of an employer’s information which he regards as important or confidential, and which the employee is aware of, necessarily confidential information as a matter of law.

The matter has been remitted to the original tribunal who will have to decide whether the kind of information these employees used for their own purposes could, as a matter of law, be regarded as confidential to the employer or whether it was simply the kind of knowledge and expertise that employees like them would have accumulated .

Case reference: Khan v Landsker Child Care Limited

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