The Supreme Court, in Reilly v Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council  UKSC 16 (a transcript of the judgment can be accessed here https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/uksc-2016-0170-judgment.pdf), recently held that a dismissal of an individual for failing to disclose a relationship with a person convicted of a serious criminal offence was capable of falling within the range of reasonable responses.
The Claimant was the head teacher of a primary school and had a close relationship with a man who was convicted of making indecent images of children; although the Claimant knew of his conviction she did not disclose this to her employer.
Upon learning of the man’s conviction the School suspended and ultimately dismissed the head teacher, primarily for failing to disclose this matter. The Claimant subsequently brought a claim against the School for unfair dismissal, arguing that she was under no duty to disclose the relationship. The Tribunal rejected this and the Claimant’s subsequent appeals to the Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal were dismissed.
The Claimant appealed to the Supreme Court and upheld the Employment Tribunal’s view that the failure to disclose, as well as the ongoing refusal to accept that she had been wrong, merited dismissal.
Whilst the facts of this case were unusual the issues raised are not uncommon. Plainly whether or not an employee has a duty to disclose details of a close friend’s criminal convictions will very much depend on the facts and circumstances but it would be complacent to simply assume that no such duty could arise, as can be seen from the Supreme Court’s judgement in this instance.