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Trust and Confidence at the Workplace

My colleague at York, Professor Sabrina Deutsch-Salamon, recently published an article based on her research that found employees who feel their employers trust them are better performers.  This is interesting from the perspective of employment law.  In Britain, the employment tribunal and the courts have developed an implied term in employment contracts that the employer must not destroy the trust and confidence that is required for an employment relationship to function properly.   Thus, employers who undermine their employees by embarassing them, by demoting them, by harassing them, for example, are in breach of the employment contract. 

In Canada, this “duty of trust and confidence” has not yet emerged fully, but Canadian courts have recognized an implied duty on employers to treat employees with “decency, civility, respect and dignity”.   Professor Deutsch-Salamon’s study suggests that the courts’ development of this implied term not only provides a measure of protection for employees, but also may benefit employers, since it may encourage more employers to think about whether their conduct towards employees develops or undermines trust. 

If employers who convey  trust to their employees are more efficient, then do you think the state should use regulation to encourage employers to behave in this way?  What kind of regulation would achieve this result?  Perhaps the British “implied duty of trust and confidence” could be read into every employment contract by a provision in employment standards legislation.  What do you think about that?


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