Where are the limits of the loyalty of the employees towards their employers?

4. 5. 2016

The employer-employee relationship is rather a specific one; both legal theory and judicial practice describe it to be "an unique relation of trust", which results in corresponding rights and obligations for both parties. Inherently, quite a high degree of loyalty of the employee to their employer can be expected.

Nevertheless, the recent development has shown that it may not, even must not, be absolute. The Supreme Court and, later, the Constitutional Court have lately solved a case of employees of a wastewater treatment plant informing relevant offices of a critical condition of the company's facilities. As a result, the employer was subsequently fined to which they retaliated by immediate dismissal of the employees involved, who in turn applied to the court against the action.

It was the Constitutional Court that decided in favour of the employees since these had not meant to inflict harm upon their employer; they had only attempted to point to potential health hazard to the local population and damage to the environment. The case, then, was brought back to the Court of Appeal, which denied the motion again (however, on different grounds). Regardless of that, the loyalty constitutes an essential building block of the employer-employee relationship.

However indispensable the loyalty of an employee towards their employer may be, it is always crucial to address each situation individually, which also applies for each and every case of breach of loyalty. As the example above suggests, the line between the necessary loyalty and public interest may be extremely thin.


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