Such a small five letter word, yet such a powerful and valuable part of any relationship. We seldom give any thought to the word and/or the implication thereof in our day to day labour.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary define ‘trust’ as “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something” and “one in which confidence is placed.”
Pondering over the meaning of trust, especially in relation to the workplace, your employer and vice versa is somewhat overwhelming. In Council for Scientific & Industrial Research v Fijen ((2002) 11 SCA 8.34.1.) the Supreme Court of Appeal confirmed trust in any employer-employee relationship to be a cardinal aspect and even though not always spelled out in a written contract, the term/element of the relationship is implied.
Carl Mischke sums it up as “the employer will not conduct itself in a manner calculated or likely to destroy or seriously damage the relationship of trust and confidence between the parties. A similar duty rests on the employee.” The Supreme Court of Appeal confirmed that when an employees’ conduct breach this duty, it might result in dismissal.
The Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995 (LRA) and Schedule 8: The Code of Good Practice: Dismissal (the Code) does not prohibit dismissal, it prohibits unfair dismissal and unambiguously confirms that a total breakdown of trust is reason enough.
Item 3.3 of the Code confirms that dismissal “should be reserved for cases of serious misconduct or repeated offences.” A definite guide for employers to rethink and safe dismissal for conduct that justify this harsh sanction by showing that an employee’s misconduct is so serious that it makes continued employment intolerable
Item 3.4 of the Code list examples of conduct serious and grave enough to make a continued employment relationship intolerable namely: gross dishonesty or wilful damage to the property of the employer; wilful endangering of the safety of others; physical assault on the employer, a fellow employee, client or customer; and gross insubordination.
Trust plays a vital role in each of the above mentioned conduct as trust is that assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone…”, the confidence an employer places in each of his employees. Once the inference is reached that you as employee cannot be trusted, it will leave the employer vulnerable.
Ngubane in Rainbow Farms versus Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) and Others D1009/2000, took a litre of milk from his employer and attempt to leave the premises of the employer. He was subsequently dismissed and challenged his dismissal. The Labour Appeal Court hold the dismissal to be fair and confirmed that “…Ngubane acted in breach of a well-known and strict rule with no exception, which can only be construed as an act of dishonesty and by so doing destroyed the trust relationship that existed between himself and the appellant and that his dismissal was justified”.
The following steps are recorded by www.wikihow.com/Rebuild-Trust:in with regard to rebuilding trust, even though it speaks to a different relationship, some of the aspects can be applied in the employer-employee relationship:
Remember prevention is better than cure! Trust is the most important and valued part of any relationship, especially in the employer-employee relationship. Sometimes when breached there is no turning back.
Manager: Legal Department