Wigan Borough Council v Davies (1979 ICR 411)

An implied term in an employment contract is that the employer will provide reasonable support to ensure that an employee can carry out his/her job without harassment or disruption by fellow workers.

Case facts

The court considered that an employer owed a duty of care and under the contract of employment to employees to protect them against ill-treatment or bullying. The plaintiff sued for breach of contract.


Conclusion for me

An implied term in an employment contract is that the employer will provide reasonable support to ensure that the employee can carry out his/her job without harassment or disruption by fellow workers.

If an employer has an obligation to take reasonable steps to achieve something and takes few or no steps, the onus of proving what steps would have been reasonable is on the employer. In other words, an employer cannot defend himself by saying that he did not know what was going on if he had failed or deliberately refused to see what should have been clear to a reasonable employer with reasonable supervisory and other monitoring and reporting procedures


Similar cases

  • W A Goold (Pearmak) Ltd v McConnell (EAT 28 Apr 1995) It is an implied term in the contract of employment that the employers will reasonably and promptly give employees an opportunity to present their grievance, and act on it, in a reasonable way.
  • Spink v Express Foods Limited (EAT 1990) An employee should know the case against them. You should hear or be told the important parts of the evidence; you should have the opportunity to criticise or dispute it and the opportunity to present your own evidence and argue your case.
  • Fletcher and Steele v Cannon Hygiene Ltd A failure by an employer to separate two women from their female harasser amounted to harassment. The employer failed to take sufficient steps to ‘protect’ them from further sex harassment.
Updated: 3rd May, 2021
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