Employees, employers and unions are obliged to deal with each other at all times in good faith. Every action taken by an employer and an employee must be done in good faith.

Good faith includes the following three elements:

·         Parties must not act in a misleading or deceptive way.

·         Parties must be responsive and communicative.

·         Before making a decision, which may result in employees losing their job, the employer must give the affected employees sufficient information to be able to understand the proposal and then give them a proper opportunity to comment.

Good faith is also wider than this. It is more than just following the letter of the law. It involves treating others fairly using common sense. Broadly, good faith requires employers, employees and unions to:

·         act honestly, openly, and without hidden motives.

·         raise issues in a fair and timely way.

·         work constructively and positively together.

·         give each other relevant information ahead of when it is needed and as soon as possible, all information given should be carefully considered.

·         be fully honest with each other.

·         raise concerns or issues as soon as possible and respond to these quickly.

·         keep an open mind, listen to each other and be prepared to change opinion about a particular situation or behaviour.

·         treat each other with respect.

There are specific rules surrounding good faith during collective bargaining.

Consequences of breaching good faith

Where an employer does not follow the rules of good faith an employee may take a personal grievance. Where the Employment Relations Authority or the Employment Court find that good faith rules were not followed by the employer then they may award a penalty for a breach of good faith.

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Penny Varley

Payroll Administrator