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The Different Types Of Dismissal And Your Rights

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 22 May 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Dismissal Unfair Dismissal Workers

There are effectively three forms of dismissal from an employer - fair, unfair and constructive - this article will tackle unfair or justified dismissal. For a employer to dismiss an employee justifiably there are two basic scenarios. Either the employee has been consistently under performing and has been through a Disciplinary Procedure, which has failed to resolve the problem, or they have committed an offence that is listed in their terms and conditions of employment as an instantly sackable offence.

Dismissal For Misconduct

The various offences that might cause disciplinary and dismissal procedures to be instigated by a business against an employee are grouped together under the term 'misconduct'. There's no finite definition of misconduct and a lot depends on the nature of the employer and its culture as to what constitutes misconduct. Generally it is either about the way an employee conducts themselves or their ability to do their job and includes:

  • Persistent poor time-keeping and absenteeism
  • Dishonesty
  • Rudeness to colleagues and/or customers
  • Poor discipline
  • Inability to keep up with work
  • Long-term absence or sickness

In these cases, a full disciplinary procedure must be followed before dismissal, although the aim of the procedure must be to reverse the problem and get an employee back on the job, with dismissal a last resort at the end. The procedure will usually entail a series of verbal and written warnings from the employer, more details of which can be found in our Disciplinary Procedures article.

Justifiable Dismissal

In every Employee's Contract, or a separate document referred to by the contract such as a staff handbook or set of terms and conditions, there will be a list of offences that will result in instant dismissal. These are termed 'gross misconduct' and are usually fairly obvious, such as:

  • Stealing, embezzling, or sabotage against the employer
  • Criminal acts not aimed at the employer but performed on their premises
  • Violence toward another employee or general violent conduct at the business
  • Drug or alcohol related incidents
  • Indecent behaviour
  • Serious Health And Safety breaches at the business

Most well-written company procedures will make it clear that the list is not exhaustive and that other acts not can also be deemed gross misconduct and cause for dismissal.

There may be more entries on the list of gross misconduct offences depending on the nature of the business. For example, in an increasing number of businesses, financial institutions in particular, some IT-related incidents, such as divulging a password or installing software on a PC, count as gross misconduct. This is spreading to other industries as the risk of computer crime and virus damage increases.

Committing a gross misconduct offence does not mean that the dismissal is 'instant', in the sense of being frog-marched immediately out of the building. Even in these cases a procedure must be followed, which normally includes the employer investigating the offence to make sure that it did actually occur and that the right person has been identified. Employees may be suspended while this takes place and, as part of their workers' rights, must be given a chance to defend themselves, with an accompanying staff member or union representative.

What Unfair Dismissal Means

The problem with fair and unfair dismissal is that the employer and employee often disagree as to whether a dismissal is fair or unfair. The only way of sorting this out is for the dismissed worker to take the company to an Employment Tribunal, who will investigate and decide the matter.

A tribunal will consider whether or not the offence counted as gross misconduct, for example, if the employee was made aware of the seriousness of the offence, and look at the company's disciplinary procedures to see if they were up to standard and had been properly implemented. Although they will not look at the issue of guilt or innocence of the employee, they would assess the employer's investigation that took place and determine whether or not it was conducted properly. They would also assess whether dismissal was the right thing for the business to do, rather than an alternative solution, and might look at past similar cases for precedents that have been set.

Get Advice Before Committing About Dismissal

People who feel they should claim unfair dismissal must get independent advice before progressing. Union Members can call on the union for support and advice, and if they believe the unfair dismissal claim to be a valid one, will provide free legal support before and at the tribunal hearing. Those who aren't can call on the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) or ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service), both of which can be easily found through a phone book, local library or the internet.

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[Add a Comment]
I have a disciplinary for gross misconduct for swearing during a meeting. I did not direct it at a person specifically. In the company handbook, there is no mention of swearing as gross misconduct and I think it is rather misconduct.
PT - 22-May-18 @ 9:46 AM
jojo - Your Question:
I have worked in the public sector for five years through an agency and have just been given one weeks notice. They are using arguments I had with management a couple of years ago as an excuse. I think it is being used as a smokescreen and that ending my contract was preplanned. Have you any advice?

Our Response:
You can check further if your dismissal is unfair via the link here. It should help answer your question. Much depends upon the type of contract you have and whether it allows the company to end your contract on one week's notice. You would have to read the terms and conditions.
WorkingRights - 27-Apr-18 @ 3:50 PM
I have worked in the public sector for five years through an agency and have just been given one weeks notice. They are using arguments i had with management a couple of years ago as an excuse. I think it is being used as a smokescreen and that ending my contract was preplanned. Have you any advice?
jojo - 27-Apr-18 @ 3:26 AM
Today I went in to work another college had said something and I replied boss came down the starting having a go so I stuck up for myself and tryed my explain for myself my side of the story iv been suspended for my attitude toward over staff but iv just had my disaplinary letter through and it’s say that iv been suspended for attitude problems and takening unpaid item but at the time didn’t get told about the unpaid iteams until it was in my letter!! Can she state something that wasn’t mention while in the Office??
Sain - 23-Apr-18 @ 5:20 PM
Shim - Your Question:
I have been told that I am most likely going to get a dissmissal for gross misconduct.I have just turned 20 and have been working with tesco's for 6 months. I have been using my friends priveledge card (who also works in same shop) ,my family have been too and I have been applying the discount whilst working to some friends and family. I didnt know the seriousness of this offence , neither have I ever read the terms and conditions of using the discount card. Today , on the day I have been told that I am most likely going to be sacked, I recieve my privelege card in the post. I am also a member of the union.

Our Response:
You can see more about unfair dismissal via the link here, which will outline your rights.
WorkingRights - 13-Apr-18 @ 3:17 PM
Hi my partner yesterday been told he could have contract termination for something he said about managerment too his ex partner the ex partner told another work collegue even though hes never had any verbal oh written warnings is this a instant dismissal even though what certain managers did that day was true.
Kyle029 - 13-Apr-18 @ 9:46 AM
I have been told that i am most likely going to get a dissmissal for gross misconduct. I have just turned 20 and have been working with tesco's for 6 months. I have been using my friends priveledge card (who also works in same shop) ,my family have been too and i have been applying the discount whilst working to some friends and family. I didnt know the seriousness of this offence , neither have i ever read the terms and conditions of using the discount card. Today , on the day i have been told that i am most likely going to be sacked, i recieve my privelege card in the post. I am also a member of the union..
Shim - 13-Apr-18 @ 1:53 AM
Barb - Your Question:
I was dismissed due to a gross misconduct.I worked there for 8 years and the way my boss has treated me it is unbelievable. I was dismissed due to a hangover and unfit to fulfill my duties as a supervisor on the day. We had a good relationship with my boss but now he become very cold and undfrindly. I went to visit my exwork place and he told me to leave the premises and treat me like a criminal. how long my should I not enter the premises after situation like this? what are the rules as I could not find any answer anywhere. why my ex boss behaves like this? Is it really necessary?

Our Response:
If the company is privately owned, then your previous employer can ask you to leave. If you worked in a public place, then you may wish to complain to the owners or managers if you are being prevented from using that space or facilities. Much depends upon where it is you work and the reasons why you wish to return, you don't say.
WorkingRights - 12-Apr-18 @ 2:39 PM
I was dismissed due to a gross misconduct.I worked there for 8 years and the way my boss has treated me it is unbelievable. I was dismissed due to a hangover and unfit to fulfill my duties as a supervisor on the day. We had a good relationship with my boss but now he become very cold and undfrindly. I went to visit my exwork place and he told me to leave the premises and treat me like a criminal. how long my should I not enter the premises after situation like this? what are the rules as I could not find any answer anywhere. why my ex boss behaves like this? Is it really necessary?
Barb - 10-Apr-18 @ 9:55 PM
Margy - Your Question:
I left Tesco on 20th November 2017 age 61 after 28 years service. Four weeks after leaving I find my discount card has been stopped. Tried to investigate this by emailing INDIA and was told it was cancelled due to having left through personal and domestic on my exit form. Wow I never had my exit interview as my letter arrived five days after it had taken place. Who had the right to put this on my exit interview and have my card stopped.

Our Response:
Unfortunately, we cannot answer this question. You would have to take this matter up with your former employer directly.
WorkingRights - 5-Apr-18 @ 2:49 PM
I left Tesco on 20th November 2017 age 61 after 28 years service. Four weeks after leaving I find my discount card has been stopped. Tried to investigate this by emailing INDIA and was told it was cancelled due to having left through personal and domestic on my exit form. Wow I never had my exit interview as my letter arrived five days after it had taken place. Who had the right to put this on my exit interview and have my card stopped.
Margy - 1-Apr-18 @ 9:32 PM
DV - Your Question:
My husband has been suspended from work as he jumped over a conveyer belt to get to the other side of the warehouse. He has been with the company for 6 years and never had a disciplinary, but now they are saying that he is in breach of health and safety regulations, they will give him a date for a hearing, where his employment might be terminated. Can he really lose his job for something like this?

Our Response:
You can see more via the Worksmart link here, which should help answer your questions.
WorkingRights - 22-Mar-18 @ 2:15 PM
My husband has been suspended from work as he jumped over a conveyer belt to get to the other side of the warehouse. He has been with the company for 6 years and never had a disciplinary, but now they are saying that he is in breach of health and safety regulations, they will give him a date for a hearing, where his employment might be terminated. Can he really lose his job for something like this?
DV - 21-Mar-18 @ 6:22 PM
TCS - Your Question:
My son works on the till in a works canteen. A customer recently complained that he had implied she was fat. This because he had a conversation with the previous customer regarding the health benefits of a jacket potato. He remarked that the jacket potato was only as healthy as the topping. Somehow this customer construed this as a dig at her weight. He is currently being subjected to a disciplinary procedure for this and fears he may by sacked for gross misconduct. As part of this procedure the line manager a his superior interviewed my son and as a produced very inaccurate minutes. They essentially said in the minutes that he had agreed that he had implied the woman was fat. This is not true! Can he be sacked for this? PS He has been in this job for 21 months and he believes this is trumped up situation to get rid of him before his employment rights kick in at the 2 year point.

Our Response:
Your son can see more via the gov.uk link here, regarding what his employer's actions should be and how they should act. Your son should have a chance to appeal any disciplinary action his employer decides to take. He may wish to give Acas a call to speak to someone directly, or contact his union if he is a member, in order to get further advice. If he thinks he has been treated unfairly over the minutes, then please see link here, which will give him another option to consider.
WorkingRights - 20-Mar-18 @ 11:43 AM
My son works on the till in a works canteen.A customer recently complained that he had implied she was fat.This because he had a conversation with the previous customer regarding the health benefits of a jacket potato.He remarked that the jacket potato was only as healthy as the topping.Somehow this customer construed this as a dig at her weight.He is currently being subjected to a disciplinary procedure for this and fears he may by sacked for gross misconduct.As part of this procedure the line manager a his superior interviewed my son and as a produced very inaccurate minutes.They essentially said in the minutes that he had agreed that he had implied the woman was fat.This is not true!Can he be sacked for this? PS He has been in this job for 21 months and he believes this is trumped up situation to get rid of him before his employment rights kick in at the 2 year point.
TCS - 19-Mar-18 @ 11:34 AM
Kel - Your Question:
An agency worker swore at me today and was nasty ive been at my job 12 years ive written a complaint about it but am worried now cause one of the members off staff fancies this person and am unsure whether hes gonna lie abt the matter

Our Response:
We cannot predict whether your colleague may lie. However, you have written the letter now, so there is little you can do than to have your complaint investigated and hopefully solved.
WorkingRights - 16-Mar-18 @ 2:46 PM
An agency worker swore at me today and was nasty ive been at my job 12 years ive written a complaint about it but am worried now cause one of the members off staff fancies this person and am unsure whether hes gonna lie abt the matter
Kel - 14-Mar-18 @ 4:31 PM
Regarding my bf being suspended: his contract doesn’t state any of disciplinary procedures, it says to check the Work handbook, which staff aren’t given a copy of. They are kept at his place of work. His boss still hasn’t informed him on what grounds the suspension is
JW - 12-Mar-18 @ 9:01 PM
JW - Your Question:
Can you be dismissed for having a verbal argument with a colleague? My boyfriend was suspended from work after an argument with a colleague. It’s now being looked into but his boss won’t tell him on what grounds he’s been suspended for. It wasn’t a physical argument, but a verbal one I understand. It has been sent to head office to look into but his boss won’t tell him what the complaint was that was made, and won’t provide him with any evidence. Thanks

Our Response:
Yes, any argument or disagreement can be dealt with as a disciplinary (your boyfriend may wish to read the terms and conditions of his employment contract to see what his company procedures are). You can also see more via the gov.uk link here, which should tell you all you need to know.
WorkingRights - 12-Mar-18 @ 12:15 PM
Can you be dismissed for having a verbal argument with a colleague? My boyfriend was suspended from work after an argument with a colleague. It’s now being looked into but his boss won’t tell him on what grounds he’s been suspended for. It wasn’t a physical argument, but a verbal one I understand. It has been sent to head office to look into but his boss won’t tell him what the complaint was that was made, and won’t provide him with any evidence. Thanks
JW - 11-Mar-18 @ 6:54 PM
I am a carer in a home and I'm on bank I picked up a shift to work. When I got to work I was on the Rota but crossed off the work sheet. I was ment to work on one unit. Then told to work on another the unit has a lot of challenging behaviour I said I could not work on there I was fed up being pushed hit by the ppl who live in the care home. I said il go home. They where fully staffed me being there made them over staffed. I was told if I don't work il be given a gross misconduct and will have a disciplinary. I needed training to work with the challenging behaviour I have not. Boss told me everyone gets hit push but still work. Can they do this can they sack me for it.
Di - 9-Mar-18 @ 11:58 PM
TH - Your Question:
I am being investigated for a Whatsapp message I sent to all the supervisors in my store, complaining about a collegue who had been spreading rumours about me, I was angry at the time as I was having marriage problems and when I found out someone at work had been spreading rumours about me I went in to a fit of rage, which led me to sending a Whatsapp message to my supervisors. Telling them to speak to their staff and sort them out. A few days later I asked for the matter to be dropped as I spoke to my collgeue and sorted the matter outs but they have taken it far now and I’m scared I will lose my job, I have 3 children and a wife and also take care of my servily disabled brother who suffers from cerebral palsy, with out this job I will not have any income coming in, this is causing a great deal of stress on me. Can someone tell me if I will lose my job over this ? I don’t seem to understand why ? And how I can lose my job over a text complianing about someone ? Apparently I didn’t follow procedures and need evidence.

Our Response:
We cannot predict whether you will use your job or not, that is up to your employer to decide. However, your employer must show they’ve: a valid reason that they can justify and acted reasonably in the circumstances, please see link here .
WorkingRights - 8-Mar-18 @ 3:21 PM
I am being investigated for a Whatsapp message I sent to all the supervisors in my store, complaining about a collegue who had been spreading rumours about me, I was angry at the time as I was having marriage problems and when I found out someone at work had been spreading rumours about me I went in to a fit of rage, which led me to sending a Whatsapp message to my supervisors. Telling them to speak to their staff and sort them out. A few days later I asked for the matter to be dropped as I spoke to my collgeue and sorted the matter outs but they have taken it far now and I’m scared I will lose my job, I have 3 children and a wife and also take care of my servily disabled brother who suffers from cerebral palsy, with out this job I will not have any income coming in, this is causing a great deal of stress on me. Can someone tell me if I will lose my job over this ? I don’t seem to understand why ? And how I can lose my job over a text complianing about someone ? Apparently I didn’t follow procedures and need evidence .
TH - 6-Mar-18 @ 9:24 PM
April - Your Question:
I have been suspended due to a taking resident to bank across the road and to a shop and brought him back to care home bearing in mind senior and manager knew he wanted to withdraw money I come back and because I was rushing to other residens and assistance buzzers I did genually forget to tell them how much he had withdrawn and some scumbag haa stolen from this poor man.this is the first time since working there I have forgot to say how much he had withdrawn and manager and senior know how good I am to declare any money a resident has I am on suspension for it what does this mean for me as I am distraught and love my job

Our Response:
If a receipt was not given and you did not inform your managers, then there will obviously be an investigation. You can see more via the link here , which should help answer your question.
WorkingRights - 6-Mar-18 @ 12:30 PM
I have been suspended due to a taking resident to bank across the road and to a shop and brought him back to care home bearing in mind senior and manager knew he wanted to withdraw money i come back and because i was rushing to other residens and assistance buzzers i did genually forget to tell them how much he had withdrawn and some scumbag haa stolen from this poor man..this is the first time since working there i have forgot to say how much he had withdrawn and manager and senior know how good i am to declare any money a resident has i am on suspension for it what does this mean for me as i am distraught and love my job
April - 5-Mar-18 @ 8:42 PM
@Ms13 - perhaps she should apply for a passport, or a Citizen Card. ID cards issued by the government were scrapped.
IsaacMJ - 26-Feb-18 @ 3:50 PM
Can you be sacked for not having photo ID. I have a friend who works forAgency and been working with them since the beginning of the year, and has been told she can’t work for them without having photo ID she doesn’t drive and have a passport. Any information would be great. Thanks
Ms13 - 23-Feb-18 @ 8:32 PM
Mj - Your Question:
I had a mental health episode at work back in Aug employer agreed to consider redeploy me and I was investigated for behavioural misconduct I presented mental health diagnosis as mitigation and redeployment consideration was removed on grounds of mental health Seven months later I am to be sacked for gross misconductI was not suspended but had signed off sick I had come back for a brief period but went sick again and requested medical retirement which medical professionals support (I have various conditions including cancer) the grounds for dismissal are duty of care to other staff but I do not intend to return to work so this makes no sense I made a grievance prior to my breakdown and this has been moved to formal process and I believe I am being victimised and disability discriminated against as they have gone from needing me back at work for my expertise to sacking me to protect staff despite knowing I will never rerun to work they had agreed to medically retire me before my grievance was investigated by an outside body and lodged at tribunal

Our Response:
You would really have to speak to ACAS regarding this matter in order to explore your rights.
WorkingRights - 20-Feb-18 @ 3:06 PM
I had a mental health episode at work back in Aug employer agreed to consider redeploy me and I was investigated for behavioural misconduct I presented mental health diagnosis as mitigation and redeployment considerationwas removed on grounds of mental health Seven months later I am to be sacked for gross misconduct I was not suspended but had signed off sick I had come back for a brief period but went sick again and requested medical retirement which medical professionals support (I have various conditions including cancer) the grounds for dismissal are duty of care to other staff but I do not intend to return to work so this makes no sense I made a grievance prior to my breakdown and this has been moved to formal process and I believe I am being victimised and disability discriminated against as they have gone from needing me back at work for my expertise to sacking me to protect staff despite knowing I will never rerun to work they had agreed to medically retire me before my grievance was investigated by an outside body and lodged at tribunal
Mj - 20-Feb-18 @ 7:45 AM
Mandy- Your Question:
I was dismissed for misconduct 6 months back. I admitted my fault and because of that the HR personelle said it would not go on my record. What does this mean? In the termination letter provided to me, they mentioned I would get a basic reference stating dates and role. Does this mean they will not state reason of leaving (misconduct) to prospective employers.

Our Response:
When issuing a reference, the only obligation your employer has is to ensure that the reference is a true, accurate and fair reflection under a duty of care. Your employer can issue a reference which confirms only the dates of employment with no further comment upon your qualities as an employee.
WorkingRights - 16-Feb-18 @ 11:53 AM
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