You’ve just been fired for ‘gross misconduct.’
But before we can address this let’s consider: what does dismissal actually mean?
A situation where an employer terminates the contract of an employee is known as dismissal. In an ideal environment, dismissal should be the last resort after all other redressal tactics have failed to work like an informal meeting to resolve the issue followed by a formal disciplinary action.
The ACAS Code of Practice in regards to discipline and grievances of an employee establishes the groundwork needed to understand the criteria of disciplinary situations and grievances in an organisation, including employee dismissal.
Can ACAS code be enforced by law?
While the ACAS Code in itself cannot be legally enforced by law, its provisions can be taken into account by employment tribunal if they need to consider relevant cases of dismissal.
Let us understand at different aspects of gross misconduct in UK:
Reasons for gross misconduct dismissals:
An employer can dismiss his employee on the basis of gross misconduct if:
1. The employee is found to be incapable of performing his job as per the standards established by the employer
2. The employee is capable to perform his job but unwilling to do so properly
3. The employee has been involved in some form of gross misconduct
If the employer wants to dismiss an employee, it is important that they carry out important investigations at the earliest to establish important facts regarding the case.
It is also extremely vital that employers first carry out an informal approach to resolve the issue at hand. In most cases, an informal open discussion can sort out the problems. In addition to that, if the capability issue is due to an employee’s health, it is important that the employer tries to help them out however they can to do their job better before they order a dismissal.
Different Misconducts & Corresponding Disciplinary Actions at Workplace in UK
As per the employment laws in UK as well as ACAS Code of Practices, there are a myriad of disciplinary procedures which can be applied in different situations. Employees have a right to be accompanied to the appeal to a manager as well as other disciplinary meetings.
Here are some different categories of misconduct in the workplace and some relevant disciplinary actions that can be taken:
1. One-off incidents
If the employee has failed to perform as per the established standards or been a part of misconduct but the situation has been a one off incident as compared to an excellent disciplinary record of the employee, the employer can sit down for an informal discussion with the employee to find out a possible solution and resolve the issue. The helps in quickening as well as simplifying the process of conflict resolution and is definitely a healthy way to address issues in the organisation.
Examples of misconduct may include a regular absence from work or persistent lateness. Employers must arrange a meeting with the concerned employee and inform them of reason for disciplinary action or dismissal to make sure the dismissal is fair. At the meeting, it is important that the employee is given a fair chance to explain their reasons, which if found unsatisfactory, a written warning can be issued. The employer can ask them to improve their actions in a specified time period. If there is no change in the action or the conduct of employee, there can be a final written warning given before opting for dismissal.
It is important to conduct a second meeting with the employee if his performance has not improved much before you give out a final warning letter. In this meeting, the employee should again be given a chance to explain their side of the story.
3. Serious misconduct
The employers should issue a first and final warning letter, if the employee’s misconduct or underperformance is found to be serious. In this scenario, the employer will arrange a meeting with the employee and explain that if he or she fails to improve, the situation will lead to a termination of his employment. When considering a misconduct to be serious, it should be serious enough to cause harm to the organisation.
4. Gross Misconduct
Gross misconduct may include:
- Gross negligence
- Being physically violent
- Insubordination which is serious in nature
If an employee has been found guilty of gross misconduct, the employer may dismiss them on immediate basis once they have gone through the procedure for fair dismissal as per ACAS Code of Conduct. It is also suggested that employer carries out a thorough investigation before announcing dismissal. A failure to do so may lead to a chance at citing unfair dismissal which can lead to an employment tribunal claim.
Whatever is the type of misconduct, it is important that employers do not fail to carry out necessary investigations and establish facts before taking further actions.
According to employment law in UK, every employee holds to right to not be dismissed unfairly. Hence, the responsibility lies in the hands of employer to ensure that employees as well as managers know and understand procedures and rules for disciplinary actions.
Having said that, employers must also conduct a thorough and unbiased investigation of the case of gross misconduct, or any misconduct for that matter before issuing a dismissal.
If you think you have been a victim of unfair dismissal, you may take advice of an employment solicitor to understand your rights better and decide on further course of action.
Our Employment Law Solicitors can assist with all types of claims. Naturally, we pride ourselves on providing the best possible service to the highest standards, we can provide free employment law advice on all problems.
Call us on 0800 756 6605 or 020 3923 4777