Gross misconduct can be any conduct where an employee has behaved in a way that represents a serious breach of their contract, making any continuing relationship impossible between employer and employee. This could be something specific in relation to the particular industry sector or job title, and which may not apply to employees who do similar roles for different employers.
Examples of acts of gross misconduct include: –
- violence at work
- intoxication from drink or drugs
- fighting or other physical abuse
- continued refusal to obey the reasonable instructions of the manager
- serious breach of health and safety rules.
Employers usually set out in the contract of employment what amounts to gross misconduct, although this isn’t a necessary pre-requisite for action to be taken.
As an employer, it is recommended that all allegations of gross misconduct are investigated and the employee is given the opportunity to respond to the same.
A dismissal also needs to be “reasonable and proportionate”. It may be, for example, that demotion or a final warning is a more appropriate sanction. Dismissal without warning by reason of gross misconduct is likely to only be fair in limited circumstances such as dishonesty, gross insubordination or alcohol abuse. If the matter ended up at an employment tribunal, you as the employer, would have to satisfy the tribunal that the decision: –
- would be one that a reasonable employer would have made
- was itself both fair and reasonable in the circumstances.
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