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The Different Types Of Dismissal And Your Rights

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 9 Dec 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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Hi my husband was sacked last week after having a heated row with his boss The boss was pointing his finger and shouting and swearing at my husband which resulted in my husband getting angry and smacking his finger away from his face My husband was then sacked with no warning no disciplinary nothing I just want to know if this is allowed he just posted my husbands p45 and that was that didn’t even inform my husband he had been sacked
Chewy - 9-Dec-18 @ 4:42 PM
I have bipolar disorder. I informed hr as I was going through the process of being diagnosed. They are aware of the condition. I have walked out today due to continuing stress and just about to visit my gp for a sick note. Basically I have just had a little breakdown due to work. Can they sack me?
Em - 14-Nov-18 @ 9:35 AM
Hi I work in a bakery. Every night its my job to check between 300-600 cakes that leave the warehouse to make sure they match the descriptions provided and sign them off. In the three years that I have worked there I have never made an error. Unfortunately the other night I made an error with just one cake that resulted in a customer complaint and was put on social media although this was not directly linked to me but was about the person who took the order. Due to this I have been suspended and told this mounts to gross misconduct. I have never heard or been told before that such an error mounts to gross misconduct. I'm not sure where I stand with this now.
fizzy - 14-Nov-18 @ 9:05 AM
Hi, I’m a school secretary & I’m being investigated because I had an affair with a married man whose child’s attends the school were I work. His wife found out & got his phone bills where you can see we contacted each other 40 times a day by text & phoncalls while I was at work. The wife also got hold of a hotel invoice bill & it clearly has both our names on it. She has submitted everything to the school. Am I going to get the sack?
Nicki - 13-Nov-18 @ 2:54 PM
My work had a staff halloween night and a few of the workers had to resign for taking drugs. They implicated me even though I am adamant I was not involved. I said I would even be willing to take a test and they said they don't have the facilities to do so. In this case what can I do because currently I have no way to prove the allegations as incorrect but feel that given their were multiple people (who are now not with the company) implicating me the company are likely to dismiss me.
Gee - 3-Nov-18 @ 4:00 AM
I work at a dental practice and in our building is also a medical department, someone has typed a letter on medical headed paper designed for myself to get better access to a theme park through a disability! Then put it in the post and it’s obviously come through to the practice manager and I have been pulled in for it. I do have a disability and I do get access to the parks disabled services but my doctor does the letter for me and I have my medical pension letter. I feel like someone is sabotaging me and like I will be sacked! Where would I stand on this matter?
Rach - 22-Oct-18 @ 10:56 AM
I've been of work with a doctors note for 5 weeks and now my employer wants to visit me at my home or a neutral place.My question is can my employer sack me.
Moe - 25-Sep-18 @ 5:17 PM
Cdmal - Your Question:
A fellow colleague called me outside prior to an event in an educational establishnent where we both work, raised his voice aggressively pointing/wagging his finger at me and made all sorts of incorrect statements that amounted to slander. I have informed my union and line manager but nothing has been done about it as the member of staff concerned is very popular and hardworking, like myself. I feel that the member of staff feels invincible and can get away with everything and anything. What steps can I take to make the person comcerned realise that the sort of behaviour displayed is totally unacceptable and unprofessional. Thank you

Our Response:
If you’re a worker and you’ve tried solving a problem or concern informally by talking to your manager but you’re not satisfied, you can make a formal grievance complaint in writing, please see the link here.
WorkingRights - 10-Aug-18 @ 2:10 PM
A fellow colleague called me outside prior to an event in an educational establishnent where we both work, raised his voice aggressively pointing/wagging his finger at me and made all sorts of incorrect statements that amounted to slander. I have informed my union and line manager but nothing has been done about it as the member of staff concerned is very popular and hardworking, like myself. I feel that the member of staff feels invincible and can get away with everything and anything. What steps can I take to make the person comcerned realise that the sort of behaviour displayed is totally unacceptable and unprofessional. Thank you
Cdmal - 10-Aug-18 @ 1:18 PM
Shez - Your Question:
I had a argument with a colleague off shop floor in a office now their saying its bad customer service as previous to this I exscused myself from till and walked off then this argument occurred now their saying I could be sacked

Our Response:
The link here , should tell you all you need to know about the disciplinary hearing.
WorkingRights - 30-Jul-18 @ 1:52 PM
I had a argument with a colleague off shop floor in a office now their saying its bad customer service as previous to this I exscused myself from till and walked off then this argument occurred now their saying I could be sacked
Shez - 27-Jul-18 @ 8:12 PM
@LisaB - if they can time your leaving of the building to your friend clocking out (but not leaving the building) over multiple occasions... then this will give enough evidence, possibly. If you haven't done it then you have nothing to worry about. If you have, then you have.
LaurieV - 26-Jun-18 @ 10:37 AM
The supermarket i work for have accused me of clocking out a fellow colleague so he can finish 15mins earlier than his normal finishing time ... i finish my shift after his shift comes to an end ! They produced cctv of me leaving the premises as normal and nothing else to indicate that i had been clocking him out earlier ! They did however produce about half a dozen time sheets from the clock in machine that shows myself clocking out as normal at the normal time , but it also shows that the colleague that i am accused of clocking out , clocking out at the same time , or a minute later , and they asked me if i can recall this colleague being at the clock in machine at the same time as myself .... i said i could not recall ! I think they have cctv of my work colleague leaving the building earlier on certain days that he should not , but as they have no cctv where the clock in machine is , they cant actually say 100% that it is me clocking him out ! ... Although it does look suspicious ! It has now moved from an investigation meeting to a disciplinary hearing , and i personally feel they have little proof on myself to say 100% that i have been clocking him out no matter how suspicious it looks ! Am i right to think this way ?
lisaB - 25-Jun-18 @ 4:07 PM
I've been working has a care assistent my husband has a handicap I notified work one week before I could work in the morning so I was told the manager said ok work the late shift which I did say after I was dismissed for no reason head office was called my myself who said this wasn't the corect procedure off general manager I'm now fighting my case
sare - 22-Jun-18 @ 9:49 AM
@Cbear - don't list this job on your CV. Find another way of using creative licence to say why you left your job of 20 years.
DoM - 21-Jun-18 @ 3:04 PM
I was dismissed from a company I had worked for for 2 months there was little work for me to do. I had left a job which I was in for 20 years to do this job. They said i was being dismissed due to making errors but no errors were pointed out to me before my dismissal. I was unaware of any errors and wasn't given the opportunity to see these before being escorted from the premises. I know I cannot claim unfair dismissal but what recourse do I have given my previous employment was unblemished and now find prospective employers judge me based on unsubstantiated reasons.
Cbear - 20-Jun-18 @ 10:21 PM
Dave - Your Question:
Hi I have been fired from work for not turning up to occ health appointment wich was on a day I had previously booked off I was told what day it was but was told to contact the op manager to get the time of it , he was not around as I worked nights and just forgot they then fired me because I was not in attendance they had sent me a message on Facebook to tell me the time on the day but I was out had no WiFi so couldn't read the messages till too late , he then told me to go to the doctors and get it done there and went back in Monday to be fired I have only worked here 9 months so I'm not sure where I stand in this ??Many thanks

Our Response:
You can check if your dismissal has been unfair via the link here . However, there is a two-year rule for unfair dismissal, please see link here.
WorkingRights - 8-Jun-18 @ 10:23 AM
Hi I have been fired from work for not turning up to occ health appointment wich was on a day I had previously booked off I was told what day it was but was told to contact the op manager to get the time of it , he was not around as I worked nights and just forgot they then fired me because I was not in attendance they had sent me a message on Facebook to tell me the time on the day but I was out had no WiFi so couldn't read the messages till too late , he then told me to go to the doctors and get it done there and went back in Monday to be fired I have only worked here 9 months so I'm not sure where I stand in this ?? Many thanks
Dave - 7-Jun-18 @ 12:04 PM
anipi - Your Question:
I have worked for a privately owned company for 3 years I clean the place for 4hours at night its key and alrm at the start of my contract it was an oral contract agreement meaning nothing wotso ever was given in writing however last year I started seeing small change that were rapidly progressing like the mess the staff wer leaving was ridiculous I spoke to my manager biu this and a few it would be back to way it was only couple nights it was just a tip again , I had a fall in work 6 weeks ago and iv been on sick ever since and yesterday I got aletter of dismissal for gross misconduct.stating this is after my boss checked the alarm logs she I have been paid money from the company for hours I did not do on numeruous occasion I set the alarm and I hadn't spent the 4 hrs I was ment to and that is what im sacked for and shes calling that gross misconduct

Our Response:
You can see more via the gov.uk link here, which should help you answer your question further, if this article doesn't. However, if your employer can prove you did not work the hours you were paid for and set the alarm before the time you were due to leave, then in all likelihood your employer is within its rights to dismiss you for misconduct.
WorkingRights - 5-Jun-18 @ 11:52 AM
Dan - Your Question:
I had a sick day, rang work same day and told them. When I went in the next day. Manager blasted me. Told me to get off the site. I left, never heard anything since. There's no answer when I ring. What do I do, can he sack me like that I haven't had any written warning or anything like that.

Our Response:
Much depends upon how long you have worked for your employer and other circumstances surrounding the dismissal. It is too difficult to advise on such little information. You can see more via the link here, which may help answer your question.
WorkingRights - 4-Jun-18 @ 2:08 PM
i have worked for a privately owned company for 3 years i clean the place for 4hours at night its key and alrmat the start of my contract it was an oral contract agreement meaning nothing wotso ever was given in writing however last year i started seeing small change that were rapidly progressing like the mess the staff wer leaving was ridiculous i spoke to my manager biu this and a few it would be back to way it was only couple nights it was just a tip again , i had a fall in work 6 weeks ago and iv been on sick ever since and yesterday igot aletter of dismissal for gross misconduct .stating this is after my boss checked the alarm logs she i have been paid money from the company for hours i did not do on numeruous occasion i set the alarm and i hadn't spent the 4 hrs i was ment to and that is what im sacked for and shes calling that gross misconduct
anipi - 3-Jun-18 @ 8:05 PM
I had a sick day, rang work same day and told them. When I went in the next day. Manager blasted me. Told me to get off the site. I left, never heard anything since. There's no answer when I ring. What do I do, can he sack me like that I haven't had any written warning or anything like that.
Dan - 2-Jun-18 @ 10:21 AM
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
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