Jukka Paloheimo

Insights | January 18, 2024

Jukka Paloheimo on the loyalty principle

We asked our people to share their thoughts about legal terms or concepts that they find useful, necessary, challenging, fun or irritating. In part three, Jukka Paloheimo, Counsel, Employment, shares some of his thoughts on the loyalty principle.

What is the loyalty principle?

The loyalty principle is ever present in the day-to-day work of an attorney: An attorney has a duty of loyalty to their client. This duty is present round the clock, and can be described as a cornerstone of this profession. However, the principle appears in other contexts as well and is something that clients themselves should take into consideration.

Who does this principle apply to in the workplace?

In the context of employment law, the loyalty principle is expected to be applied in a variety of ways: Firstly, the loyalty principle should be applied throughout the workforce – from CEO to intern and vice versa – regardless of the industry. “One for all, all for one,” as it was written in a classic novel by Alexandre Dumas.

Secondly, to be a loyal superior, one should always keep in mind that your team members are entitled to be properly guided and instructed. A superior applying the loyalty principle should also lead and guide their employees as well as invest time into advising junior employees.

What happens when the duty of loyalty is breached?

An employment lawyer often comes across the allegation that someone has not adhered to the loyalty principle. Loyalty must be earned, but if a duty in this regard is breached, there can and should be consequences. In the applicable (employment) law, one of the main duties of an employee is that of loyalty to their employer. However, what this duty consists of is determined on a case-by-case basis.

The context of the duty of loyalty is reflected by an individual’s position, experience, knowledge and skills. Particularly if you are a member of senior management, the loyalty principle is a very important guideline, and a breach of duty in this regard often leads to disciplinary measures, including, but not limited to, termination of the individual’s employment. A CEO is not outside the scope of the overarching loyalty principle. On the contrary, it is of the utmost importance that CEOs consistently adhere to it.

How does this principle apply in the modern workplace?

However, it’s not only limited to attorneys. As we can see, there are many ways to violate the principle. The principle of loyalty will have positive side effects throughout the workplace if properly adhered to. Employees who feel respected are loyal to their employer and are willing to go the extra mile in their daily work.

Do not take loyalty for granted or treat it as an empty slogan. Act by it and you will be respected.