When an employee commits an act so egregious or dangerous as to risk the safety of others or reputation of the business (gross misconduct), or when their behaviour reaches a tipping point, the employee can be summarily dismissed. In such cases, the employee is dismissed without notice or payment instead of notice.
What is Gross Misconduct?
Many actions or behaviours can amount to gross misconduct, but there is no single, comprehensive list. In most instances, examples of gross misconduct should be outlined in the employment contract as well as in the staff handbook. Employees should be briefed about the consequences of the various breaches.
It can be difficult to justify a summary dismissal when an employee can successfully argue that the act committed wasn’t a sackable offence. And there is always the risk an employee will file an unfair dismissal claim, and the employer will face an employment tribunal.
Dismissing An Employee for Gross Misconduct
Summary dismissal should be a last resort. Before dismissing an employee, an employer should conduct an investigation and offer the employee a chance to respond. If the employee’s action was particularly flagrant employers may place the staff member on paid leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
A thorough investigation ensures the dismissal process is carried out fairly and minimises the risk of an unfair dismissal ruling.
A thorough investigation to ascertain that the allegations for dismissal are viable is essential. However, an employer that can show consistent action will reduce the risk of an unfair dismissal claim.