Gross misconduct is a term given to particularly serious offences committed in the workplace. Please read on for more information about gross misconduct at work.
What is Gross Misconduct?
There is no general definition of gross misconduct and it will often always depend on the facts of each individual case and the particular employer. Fundamentally, the conduct or actions of the employee must be so negligent and/or deliberate that it irrevocably damages the implied duty of trust and confidence between employer and employee.
Some actions by an employee will always be considered gross misconduct. For example:
- Physical violence.
- Sexual harassment.
- Deliberate vandalization or damage to company property.
- Fraud/falsifying company documentation.
An employer can define additional conduct which, when considering their business, may also constitute gross misconduct. For example, in the catering/hospitality sector a serious breach of food safety regulations may amount to gross misconduct.
Employers should provide examples of what conduct is deemed to be classed as gross misconduct in their Contract of Employment or Disciplinary policy/handbook.
Whilst Employers do have discretion as to what amounts to gross misconduct within their business, they should be wary of readily using the term to cover all conduct issues. Gross misconduct should be reserved for the most serious conduct acts/behaviours.
Disciplinary Investigation and Process
An employer is still under a duty to follow a fair investigation and disciplinary process in cases of gross misconduct.
Depending upon the conduct in question it may be appropriate to suspend the employee, on full pay, pending the outcome of the investigation. Once an investigation has been conducted, the employee should be invited to a disciplinary meeting to discuss the findings of the investigation and the decision of the employer.
The final decision should be provided to the employee in writing and specifically detail what act(s)/behaviour(s) have amounted to gross misconduct. The employee does have a right to appeal a decision of gross misconduct dismissal. The right of appeal and appeal process should be clearly explained to the employee in writing.
It is necessary for the employer to follow the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance when investigating a gross misconduct act. For more information on the disciplinary process at work please see our blog https://lincslaw.co.uk/blog/work-disciplinary/
Possible Outcomes For Allegations Of Gross Misconduct
Often the most concerning sanction for an employee is that they can be dismissed without notice. No matter how many years’ service you have, or what notice your Contract of Employment entitles you to, if allegations of gross miscount are proven against you, your employer can dismiss you summarily. This means immediate dismissal without notice or notice pay.
It is therefore important that employees properly engage in the disciplinary process. Also, do not automatically accept that the allegation, if proven, would amount to gross misconduct. It may the case that the alleged conduct does not warrant any disciplinary sanction, let alone summary dismissal.
Even if the alleged conduct is serious, it may be that a lesser sanction than summary dismissal such as a warning or dismissal with notice would be the fairer outcome.
If an employee is dismissed on grounds of gross misconduct, an employer is within their rights to include this in any future reference. Similarly, if the employee works in a regulated industry, it may be a requirement to report any gross misconduct to the regulatory body.
How Lincs Law Can Help You?
If you are currently going through an investigation procedure for gross misconduct and have concerns or questions, we can provide help and assistance. Alternatively, if you have already been dismissed on grounds of misconduct, Lincs Law can provide help and assistance in respect of any appeal process and any potential employment law claims you may have. Please call us on 01522 440512 for a free, no obligation, initial phone enquiry. For more information about workplace disciplinary, please visit our website at https://lincslaw.co.uk/blog/work-disciplinary/
Specialist Employment Solicitor
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors
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