Gross Misconduct at Work

  • Employee Conduct
Gross Misconduct
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

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This guide explains how to deal with this matter in a legally compliant manner. Peninsula offers expert advice on gross misconduct, contact one of our qualified team today to see how we can help you.

Inevitably, some form of misconduct will occur at work. We’re all only human, after all. You can usually deal with some forms of misconduct with informal meetings and measures. Occasionally, it’ll be more formal.

However, there are some instances where misconduct is so serious, it destroys the relationship between the employee and the employer. Whether deliberate or not, you can’t ignore these actions.

These acts are different from simple acts of misconduct, such as lateness or a failure to complete work tasks on time. These acts will instead enable employers to dismiss staff without notice.

This guide explains how to deal with this matter in a legally compliant manner. Peninsula offers expert advice on gross misconduct, contact one our qualified team today to see how we can help you.

What is gross misconduct in the UK?

Gross misconduct covers a long list of offences that staff members could commit at work.

This behaviour is unprofessional and warrants instant dismissal (also known as ‘summary dismissal) without notice and without pay in lieu of notice (PILON).

What is classed as gross misconduct?

Gross misconduct’s meaning can vary depending on the business. It’ll vary depending on the type of business and its culture. 

You should define gross misconduct within your disciplinary policy. It is also important for employees to understand what behaviour is expected and what can cause disciplinary actions.

Examples of gross misconduct

While it depends on your own policy, employers usually consider the following to be gross misconduct:

  • Theft or fraud.
  • Physical violence or bullying.
  • Damage to property.
  • Serious misuse of an organisation's name or property.
  • Deliberately accessing internet sites that contain pornographic or other offensive material.
  • Setup of a competing business.
  • Misuse of confidential information.
  • Serious insubordination.
  • Discrimination or harassment.
  • Bringing the organisation into serious disrepute.
  • Offering or accepting bribes.
  • A serious breach of health & safety regulations.
  • A serious breach of confidence.
  • Causing loss, damage, or injury through serious negligence.
  • Serious incapability at work due to alcohol or illegal drug use.

These gross misconduct examples are not exhaustive.

You should make sure that your business identifies what constitutes gross misconduct before any hearings. Places to do this are the contract of employment and the staff handbook.

Difference between misconduct and gross misconduct

Minor professional misconduct examples include frequent lateness, failure to finish work tasks on time, failure to follow instructions, and poor execution of tasks.

As you can see, the difference between the two types of misconduct is substantial.

If the hearing feels there has been the misconduct they’ve been accused of, you can dismiss them with immediate effect.

Your duties as an employer

You have a duty to protect your staff from harm. So any individual who jeopardises this should receive the appropriate disciplinary actions.

But remember that employees who take part in offensive behaviour may claim their actions were inoffensive.

Despite this, you can still proceed with dismissal for gross misconduct, especially if these actions threaten the integrity of the organisation and stand to negatively impact workplace morale.

Gross misconduct dismissal

Ultimately, when determining if an act constitutes gross misconduct employers need to refer to their gross misconduct procedure. But you should also assess whether the act is enough to break down the trust and confidence of the employment relationship.

In these situations, you can proceed with a summary dismissal providing you can prove the decision falls within the band of reasonable responses. Provided a full and fair disciplinary procedure has been followed

You can draft a gross misconduct dismissal letter as part of these proceedings. This is important as it keeps a written record for your business.

Gross misconduct appeal

As with any form of dismissal, you must give your employee the right to appeal. This means you need to look at your case again to see if:

  • The procedure was followed in a fair way.
  • The outcome is fair.

The Acas Code says that employees should be given the right to appeal a disciplinary or grievance outcome.

If you don’t give the opportunity to appeal, this could be counted against you if the case goes to an employment tribunal.

Expert support on misconduct at work with Peninsula

Gross misconduct and termination is a more black and white example of dealing with misconduct at work. Sometimes, it can be less straightforward.

There may be some underlying personal issues which cause misconduct, or the systems in place at work could be causing it.

Our employment law and HR consultants can help with this. Peninsula clients get access to 24/7 HR to consult our specialists on or secure air-tight contracts with our document experts.

And if you’re not yet a client, you can still enjoy a free advice call from one of our business experts. Simply call us on 0800 028 2420.

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