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The Different Types Of Dismissal And Your Rights

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 22 Jun 2017 | 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]
Rolo - Your Question:
My son works for a small countryside company and has done so for nearly 2 years he went into work today to be told to go home as his employment there has ended due to his poor attendance and his poor attitude towards management what does this mean he is a pleasant young man and always tries to work hard but since his grandad become poorly in December and passed away late December his attendance has been poor he is under the doctors for stress and anxiety and work put him onto a 3 day week but then utity to a 4 day week he thought things were getting back on track but today he feels so lost again he also recently moved out into his own place with his girlfriend and has half the mortgage to pay we are so worried what can he do if anything to be reinstated at work

Our Response:
In certain situations, an individual may be able to take legal action if they are dismissed, please see gov.uk link here .
WorkingRights - 23-Jun-17 @ 11:38 AM
My son works for a small countryside company and has done so for nearly 2 years he went into work today to be told to go home as his employment there has ended due to his poor attendance and his poor attitude towards managementwhat does this meanhe is a pleasant young man and always tries to work hard but since his grandad become poorly in December and passed away late December his attendance has been poor he is under the doctors for stress and anxiety and work put him onto a 3 day week but then utity to a 4 day week he thought things were getting back on track but today he feels so lost again he also recently moved out into his own place with his girlfriend and has half the mortgage to pay we are so worried what can he do if anything to be reinstated at work
Rolo - 22-Jun-17 @ 4:09 PM
Mo - Your Question:
I have had a gross misconduct meeting for call avoidance, work avoidance & bad customer service. I agree that I have been doing this for the last 2 month or so but never said this in the meeting. My behaviour has changed to some stuff going on at home. They were going to sack me they never said this in the meeting but I knew it would be coming. So I stated I've been to a GP for stress and depression s few weeks ago who Adivesd to take medication for this and in the meeting they adjourned it and advised me to go back and take time I of until I'm 100% and come back.Do you thing I will still get sacked

Our Response:
I'm afraid we cannot comment on what your employer may decide long term. However, in the short term it sounds as though you have been given another chance. As ACAS specifies: 'The main purpose of operating a disciplinary procedure is to encourage improvement in an employee whose conduct or performance are below acceptable standards.' Much depends upon your actions from here on in. If you are genuinely ill and have been to your GP for depression and medication, then your employer has obviously decided to support you in this. The next stage is to assess whether/when you will be fit for work, please see link here .
WorkingRights - 20-Jun-17 @ 10:43 AM
I have had a gross misconduct meeting for call avoidance, work avoidance & bad customer service. I agree that I have been doing this for the last 2 month or so but never said this in the meeting. My behaviour has changed to some stuff going on at home. They were going to sack me they never said this in the meeting but I knew it would be coming. So I stated I've been to a GP for stress and depression s few weeks ago who Adivesd to take medication for this and in the meeting they adjourned it and advised me to go back and take time i of until I'm 100% and come back. Do you thing I will still get sacked
Mo - 17-Jun-17 @ 1:20 AM
I have just reported a care worker to their head office for stealing creams from a couple of their clients. Is this a sackable offence? My mum has a carer and i would hate to think that if this was done to her that carer would still be able to work in that profession. I know the theft was not money but it is still theft. This carer gave me a bottle of the cream so i have shown this proof to the head office
nick - 14-Jun-17 @ 2:18 PM
I've been working at my company for 1 year and 3 months. I was called in to see the MD yesterday - I thought it was strange. Then he told me I wasn't performing well and said that he's dismissing me, and that I'd be paid 1 months notice and outstanding leave. I've never had a meeting re my performance before, no policies were followed. Because I have less than 2 years service can they get away with this? Also another person in the team was on probation and processes were followed for them before they were dismissed. She was a white female and I am a black male. I welcome any advice.
Lo - 8-Jun-17 @ 10:39 AM
Me and a colleague have been emailing each other about other staff -calling names and such. Stupid things. Probably classed as gross misconduct. However we weren't suspended or sacked and no mention of further investigation was mentioned - just asked to get back to work after a good telling off. Can we still be sacked or suspended? This only happened yesterday and we've both been back into work this morning for a shift and nothing was mentioned?. Can we still be suspended or sacked? There's no staff handbook to refer to, however we signed an 'email conduct' a few years ago. This has probably expired as no refresher has been signed since. I've been there 9years nearly, and for the past 6 years 60 hours per week. I've never been in trouble with them before. I'm really nervous I could be fired for a stupid mistake.
Hskdkdk - 27-May-17 @ 7:39 PM
@Bones - if your contract says it is forbidden for employer's to have a relationship with your client, then yes.
AshW - 25-Apr-17 @ 11:26 AM
I had a relationship with a ex client, this happend after they they had left place that i work and have now the relationship has ended . Iam now under investigation is this grounds for dissmisal?
Bones - 24-Apr-17 @ 1:47 PM
Hi, I use my personal Facebook account for work related things. Someone has been onto my computer and onto my account and read through my messages, some of which or most of which were slagging them off. Basically what shall I do?
Help - 19-Apr-17 @ 12:30 PM
Can I be dismissed if I haven't attended work due to writing my shifts down wrong? (This is the second time and I haven't had a verbal warning due to the first time my shifts were changed while I wasn't at work and I wasn't notified). I was not rang which is the normal procedure and no one has attempted to message me. Worried as struggling for money
Mia - 13-Mar-17 @ 6:18 PM
i was called in to the office at work and after friendly chat , I was not told I was having a disiplinary as my supervisor was chatting and having friendly banter about my appearance , my family home life etc . The fact that I had done well selling the member ship cards to coop customers and I could catch up with the girl who was leading the way with selling them . The next thing I'm being told she had cctv footage of me using my staff discount card on 3 people asked me who they were I said one is my son , my daughter and a friend . They didn't have members cards so I thought it was ok to use mine as in the past I've seen other staff use there cards for family and friends . I did leave my till to get my card which in hind sight I should not have left but I've been under a lot of stress and anxiety my mind was not thinking . Anyway there was a girl taking notes behind me and I was told I was I was having a disiplinary with no warning . I had no one represent me and was not asked either .The reason she stated was because of 9.60 and £2.90 loss to the storeShe gave me a letter to say I'm suspended, to come back in 5 days time .i did go back I tried to get my union to represent me but I was no longer a member which I had forgotten as had a lot on my mind asked HR they could not said asked a staff member . But I was told in the first letter from her I'm not to approach staff or the store . In my meeting with my manager he went through everything asked loads of questions which I wasn't prepared for . I had no one with me apart from a girl taking notes . I was asked to wait in the canteen while he found out his decision after waiting about 11/2 hours he said he has checked all the rights and I'm sorry to say your are being dismissed . I was shocked I was asked to hand back my members cards and to give my locker key back . I was in shock I just walked out so now facing unemployment through stress and anxiety coop have put me through !
Kim - 9-Mar-17 @ 10:01 PM
Someone who works for me has told me their best friend died and they need time off for a funeral. If this is proven to be a lie, can they be sacked for Gross Misconduct?
Mel - 9-Mar-17 @ 2:16 PM
Is threatening behaviour a stackable offence.
Glenny - 8-Mar-17 @ 11:56 AM
3 weeks ago I was given a letter. Ti a investigation into racist remarks. I found out in my meeting on the friday on a thread of the evening mail racist stuff was put on about muslims. Only 1 person I could think of would do that to me was a family member. I asked them they said yes my account was hacked. The police and Facebook could not help. I had 24 hours to prove I did not do it. Went to work Sunday. Called to a meeting where 2 other managers from a different shop. Produced a letter from my manager. Saying she dine not want me on checkouts I can't be trusted I have hate again Muslims she feelsdegraded and horrible about herself and guilty for being a Muslim. The thread that was on the evening mail as from 8 months ago. Nearly 9 years I have worked for tesco never been in no trouble only 1 complaint. Because I had no proof it was not me I was sacked within 24 hours of gross misconduct. My manager has never liked me and I have gone out my way to help doing 2 shift away when no one else will. He husband went off with a white woman and had a child. Since then I have felt victimised by her. The day before I got the sack. She told me point blank I want you gone and made it quite clear she hated me and did not want to work with me. Everyone had been treating me different fir 2 or 3 weeks but I didn't know why. Because she told people about what information she had been given. That I put racist stuff on a link. My child is mixed race and get on with everyone I was a very popular member of staff with my customers. The union i contacted I'm supposed to have a meeting. Nothing or no information yet. I have been cut off. What do I do now
Bobcatty - 7-Mar-17 @ 12:36 PM
R - Your Question:
I work in a large company but after redundancies I am left with only one more person in my business critical department. My colleague who reports to me does not get along with me. I have not complained against my colleague formally other than an informal chat with HR on his insubordination aspect for which HR gave him verbal warning. Instead of managing the issues brought forward by my colleague and providing me the allegations formally, HR has created a case of interpersonal conflict and arranged mediation. The first round of mediation has failed. In order to keep up with business critical work, with a not so cooperating colleague, I had to put in extra work myself under stressful environment. No targets have been missed so far due to my extra efforts.My health (high blood pressure) has been seriously impacted due to stress at work and the company GP advised me unfit for work for 7 days due to 'stress at work'. My company appointed doctor has certified that 'my blood pressure has aggravated due to stress at work, however I am fit to report back to work'.Now the HR has sent me a letter as a part of consultation that due to breakdown in working relation between the only two people in a business critical function( which I agree), there is detrimental impact on the business. There is breakdown in trust and confidence between myself and the company( which I am not sure how, considering my extra efforts).There is no option available for any one person to work elsewhere in the company. So I am given an option to opt for (1) further mediation, (2)work out a relationship improvement plan with my colleague or (3) take settlement and leave. There is a tight deadline of 5 working days given to me.My colleague has got the same letter. Company will provide us consultation to close on these options. However if we are unable to resolve it company will proceed with a possible dismissal of one or both of us.So far my performance has been rated as good. I have not slipped on any of my deadlines. I have to overwork to ensure that the company work is not impacted because I am accountable for it and my colleague is not performing due to his conflicts with me. I am not sure how company can claim that there is a breakdown of confidence and trust between me and the company when it is a interpersonal conflict between two colleagues. I have not done anything that can be classified as misconduct, neither I have received any formal notice for it, any formal allegations on me nor was asked to provide formal clarifications/statements prior to this letter.I request you to advise me:1. Does the company have a right to threaten me with dismissal ?2. How do I protect myself from dismissal considering I have no faith that my colleague will work collaboratively with me going forward?3. What should be the next step for me before 10th March?4. If I take option (2) above- a joint proposed improvement plan - How do I protect myself from future problems?5

Our Response:
As we are a general guidance site, unfortunately we cannot answer questions of a more personally specific nature. Therefore, in this instance I suggest you give ACAS a call, please see link here. The ACAS team will be able to give an in depth answer regarding your rights.
WorkingRights - 6-Mar-17 @ 10:07 AM
I work in a large company but after redundancies I am left with only one more person in my business critical department. My colleague who reports to me does not get along with me. I have not complained against my colleague formally other than an informal chat with HR on his insubordination aspect for which HR gave him verbal warning. Instead of managing the issues brought forward by my colleague and providing me the allegations formally, HR has created a case of interpersonal conflict and arranged mediation. The first round of mediation has failed. In order to keep up with business critical work, with a not so cooperating colleague, I had to put in extra work myself under stressful environment. No targets have been missed so far due to my extra efforts. My health (high blood pressure) has been seriously impacted due to stress at work and the company GP advised me unfit for work for 7 days due to 'stress at work'. My company appointed doctorhas certified that'my blood pressure has aggravated due to stress at work, however I am fit to report back to work'. Now the HR has sent me a letter as a part of consultation that due to breakdown in working relation between the only two people in a business critical function( which I agree), there is detrimental impact on the business. There is breakdown in trust and confidence between myself and the company( which I am not sure how, considering my extra efforts).There is no option available for any one person to work elsewhere in the company. So I am given an option to opt for (1) further mediation, (2)work out a relationship improvement plan with my colleague or (3) take settlement and leave. There is a tight deadline of 5 working days given to me.My colleague has got the same letter. Company will provide us consultation to close on these options. However if we are unable to resolve itcompany will proceed with a possible dismissal of one or both of us. So far my performance has been rated as good. I have not slipped on any of my deadlines. I have to overwork to ensure that the company work is not impacted because I am accountable for it and my colleague is not performing due to his conflicts with me. I am not sure how company can claim that there is a breakdown of confidence and trust between me and the company when it is a interpersonal conflict between two colleagues.I have not done anything that can be classified as misconduct, neither I have received any formal notice for it, any formal allegations on me nor was asked to provide formal clarifications/statements prior to this letter. I request you to advise me: 1. Does the company have a right to threaten me with dismissal ? 2. How do I protect myself from dismissal considering I have no faith that my colleague will work collaboratively with me going forward? 3. What should be the next step for me before 10th March? 4. If I take option (2) above- a joint proposed improvement plan - How do I protect myself from future problems? 5
R - 5-Mar-17 @ 12:21 AM
Kim - Your Question:
I've been given a disiplinary over using my staff discount card on family and a friend. Resulting in 9.60 loss to the store I wasn't thinking at the time and those I served didn't have there membership card on them so I used mine. I was given 48 hours suspended with another meeting with my manager on wed which could result in me losing my job. In the first incidence I wasn't told it was a disciplinary it was light hearted bantered about my family which went on to say who these people were I served on. Cc Tv using my staff discount card. A lot of writing was put down on paper then I was told to come back in 4 days what shall I do was this done the right way

Our Response:
Before taking formal disciplinary action or dismissing you, your employer may try to raise the matter informally with you. However, they can go straight to their formal disciplinary or dismissal procedures, please see link here , which will tell you all you need to know about the procedure.
WorkingRights - 28-Feb-17 @ 10:12 AM
I've been given a disiplinary over using my staff discount card on family and a friend . Resulting in 9.60 loss to the store I wasn't thinking at the time and those I served didn't have there membership card on them so I used mine . I was given 48 hours suspended with another meeting with my manager on wed which could result in me losing my job . In the first incidence I wasn't told it was a disciplinary it was light hearted bantered about my family which went on to say who these people were I served on. Cc Tv using my staff discount card . A lot of writing was put down on paper then I was told to come back in 4 days what shall I do was this done the right way
Kim - 27-Feb-17 @ 5:20 AM
Hi, I've been suspended from work pending an investigation. When I got suspended I had to hand over my badge which I totally agree with but I was also told to empty out my locker and hand my key back. This made me feel like they had already made their decision. Does anyone know if this is the normal procedure?
Chaz - 25-Feb-17 @ 5:13 AM
My son works as an overheads apprentice for a Yorkshire based rail company with a zero hour contract. He's currently working each day as it comes but generally 6 day/nights a week, but when he tries to take a day off for fatigue or doctors appointment or to care for his son he gets threatened with dismissal "if you refuse a shift you're out!". Can they do that?
Irnbrudad - 23-Feb-17 @ 8:39 PM
Bob - Your Question:
I have a disiplinary tomoz for having an argument with another staff member can I be sacked for it

Our Response:
You can see more via the gov.uk link here .
WorkingRights - 14-Feb-17 @ 12:13 PM
I have a disiplinary tomoz for having an argument with another staff member can i be sacked for it
Bob - 13-Feb-17 @ 4:37 PM
Hello, I have just completed a disciplinary in which I was accused of not carrying out a task in a timely manner on 17/01/17. I mitigated it on grounds that on that day we were 1 staff down and was asked to pick up all the calls and the deadlines that were set were unreasonable because of the reasons given. In the afternoon after constant pressure and demands do too much too soon I got angry and sent a very defensive letter to our customer who complained. This does not ruin the business at all as I do most of the work and I have had an exemplerary record for 5years and 9 months. My colleagues also complained about my tone of voice and said I was rude but this is the first time I was hearing of it and some of their accusations turned out not to be true in the meeting. I had an investigation and a disciplinary on Friday and was promised a response today but I have not yet got a call nor received an email or a letter. During the disciplinary I did advise that I was extremely stressed that day and regret my emails and would apologise to the customer. I even asked to be removed from the responsibility of a Senior Admin to an Admin as my work is exemplary but its my conduct and I related this to the stress and personality differences in the team. I am the only person who is over 40 in the team, they are all under 30 and so we sometimes don't gel well. Can I be dismissed on those grounds and if so how can I appeal and how can I present my case to the tribunal? Thanks
Yudesi - 13-Feb-17 @ 12:29 PM
I was dismissed and company car taken back straight away, am I entitled to compensation through tribunal
Calvo - 12-Feb-17 @ 7:08 PM
MaryJ - Your Question:
Hi, I am currently being investigated for gross misconduct (using company supermarket vouchers instead of my own by accident I think, I'm not quite sure) I am currently on sick with stress anyway. I also have just been diagnosed with extremely low folate levels my Dr has said one of the main symptoms is lack of memory, understanding and judgement. Should my employer take my illness into consideration when deciding whether to dismiss me? Also my manager didn't speak to HR until nearly 2 weeks after the incident when they knew 2 days prior the incident. My manager also asked friends to ask me regarding the incident before they went to HR about it. Is this correct investigation? Thanks in advance

Our Response:
We cannot comment upon whether the investigation has been carried out correctly. It may be that your employer needed to collect further evidence.You can certainly present your GP's findings at your hearing.
WorkingRights - 9-Feb-17 @ 2:18 PM
Hi, I am currently being investigated for gross misconduct (using company supermarket vouchers instead of my own by accident I think, I'm not quite sure) I am currently on sick with stress anyway. I also have just been diagnosed with extremely low folate levels my Dr has said one of the main symptoms is lack of memory, understanding and judgement. Should my employer take my illness into consideration when deciding whether to dismiss me? Also my manager didn't speak to HR until nearly 2 weeks after the incident when they knew 2 days prior the incident. My manager also asked friends to ask me regarding the incident before they went to HR about it. Is this correct investigation? Thanks in advance
MaryJ - 8-Feb-17 @ 8:32 PM
Mags - Your Question:
My daughter was dismissed from morrisons yesterday for failing to comply with the cash handling procedure. She did not put notes straight into icy machine and a member of publicourse stole it. All captured on cctv and man was known to shop.does seem rather harsh.is this normal procedure?

Our Response:
Your daughter would have to read her contract to see what it says about the company's cash handling procedure and what grounds constitutes instant dismissal. Also, please see ACAS link here. If she has any further queries, she should give ACAS a call.
WorkingRights - 8-Feb-17 @ 2:21 PM
Hi... I recently got into a heated argument at with a colleague and threats of violence were said... Only 1 other staff member saw and heard it, but i think he may have reported me... What are my chanced if dismissal?
Andy - 3-Feb-17 @ 12:54 PM
My daughter was dismissed from morrisons yesterday for failing to comply with the cashhandling procedure. She did not put notes straight into icy machine and a member of publicourse stole it. All captured on cctv and man was known to shop..does seem rather harsh..is this normalprocedure?
Mags - 1-Feb-17 @ 7:37 PM
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