Gross Misconduct

Gross misconduct is a very serious misconduct conducted by an employee. It is usually intentional but whether done intentionally or not, it allows the employer to dismiss an employee summarily without notice or a payment in lieu of notice.

‘Summarily’ doesn’t mean that the employee should be ordered to leave the office on the spot. Those days are behind us. It is now usual to hold a disciplinary investigation even in obvious cases, at least for employees with over two years’ service, who are able to bring employment tribunal claims for unfair dismissal.

If it turns out that the employer had a good reason for the gross misconduct dismissal, there could still be a successful unfair dismissal claim if proper procedures have not been followed. But subject to that, the employer can safely dismiss the employee without giving the statutory or contractual notice as it would do if the employee were terminated in normal circumstances.

What counts as gross misconduct?

There is no legal definition for it as such; but the following are examples of what caselaw has said is gross misconduct an unfair dismissal claims:

  • Intoxication or being under the influence
  • Insubordination
  • Bullying
  • Indecency
  • Any dishonesty (we advise that even a tiny act of dishonest warrants dismissal)
  • Very serious breaches of health and safety rules
  • Deliberate discrimination (such as harassment, not one of the accidental forms, such as indirect discrimination)
  • Sex on the boardroom table

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