Gross misconduct is an act which is so serious that it justifies summary dismissal, that is dismissal without notice, or pay in lieu of notice.
The act or acts must be such that they destroy the relationship of trust and confidence between the employer and employee, making the working relationship impossible to continue.
Employers often erroneously think that “summary dismissal” means you can fire someone on the spot.
In the event of an allegation of gross misconduct, you still need to follow a fair procedure. If you do dismiss them on the spot, it’s likely that you will face a claim of unfair dismissal.
What constitutes gross misconduct will vary depending on the industry and the nature of the business.
Here are some examples of what could constitute gross misconduct
- Offensive behaviour
- Damage to property
- Incapacity or serious misconduct (e.g. alcohol at work)
Importantly, for a gross misconduct dismissal to be considered as fair you must be able to show:
- That you genuinely believe the act was gross misconduct;
- You have reasonable grounds for believing this;
- You have carried out a reasonable investigation;
- The dismissal falls within the “band of reasonable responses”, i.e. that a tribunal would agree that a reasonable employer would have dismissed in similar circumstances.
The Simple Take Is: Never sack someone on the spot. Always seek advice from an HR expert.
If you are dealing with a situation which you are unsure about and think it might constitute gross misconduct, contact us on 01487 815720 to talk it through with one of our HR Experts.