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The Different Types Of Dismissal And Your Rights

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 12 Oct 2019 | 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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i was ment to start new job on the weds but didnt like it so asked my boss and said i didnt want to lesve she said thats fine so i got my work out the way and they removed me from payroll 2 days after we had a chat then told me it was to late to put me on bc it was nearly end of season but shes now took on my employers were do i stand wit this ?
rosie webb - 12-Oct-19 @ 8:05 AM
I have been working for a hire company who hire traffic lights normally a mobile fitter changes batteries twice a week per set. The mobile fitter had a week off due to illness and they sent me our with no training at all the lights went out on me (complete madness). Got back to depo and said to manage i wasnt comfortable doing this but kept sending me out. End of the week i went up to him and said im getting stressed down to doing a job i dont know he still wasn't nice about this he pressured me into handing in my notice as was going to keep sending me out without training. His reply was if they go out on me not the companys fault to ring someone else. I felt it was me putting people in danger on the roads so handed in my notice (not wanting to). The week after i went in and he said my notice was going through as he feels like speaking to a brick wall when i do anything the company wants whenever if its overtime or coming in early. Feel like ive done nothing wrong and manager just wants me gone. They are now putting me through a grievance procedure.
Age - 30-Sep-19 @ 4:54 PM
I have been dismissed for throwing a box at a college. He provoked me twice and warned him the 1st time before I loose my temper and threw a box at him. The was no evidence of parcel(box) was damaged and the colleague wasn’t hurt. I worked at this place for 11 years and never have a displinary or a warning. Am I a chance to win the appeal?
P - 19-Sep-19 @ 10:37 AM
I work on a forklift lost my temper for a moment with my picking screen and repeatedly hit it and broke it, my intention however wasnt to break it but just to let off some stress, ive now been interviewed and said the screen may have been stuck already by a stone maybe or something like that causing it to be weaker than usual when hitting it, I have no other probs at work, never been disciplined before, workrate is good and never called in sick, will I be fired for this? Please reply many thanks
Vapour007 - 9-Sep-19 @ 6:26 AM
Supervisor at husbands work has been out to get him sacked for a while now picking on everything he does constantly undermining him husband suffers from a health problem which is brought up at every opportunity if he's off sick few years ago this supervisor wrote a statement regarding my husband which was lies, the place of work has cctv which is used to monitor area as it is a warehouse used for medical supplies drugs etc but the said supervisor uses it to spy on staff watching every move they make even reporting them and my husband if there seen leaving area for a toilet break....can this be considered as bullying or intimidation within workplace
Weecee - 20-Aug-19 @ 11:19 AM
Can I be dismissed for leaving my post even though I couldn't find my manager to infirm him and I told other colleges my whereabouts also it was a first aid incident ie me carrying out first aid
Dene - 22-Jul-19 @ 4:36 PM
Hi, I work as a market trader and had to report an assistant manager for her conduct towards me. The next week I had to see her because there were no brakes on my trolley. She was the only manager in. She sighed wasn’t pleasant and eventually she said she would get me one. Later I took my insurance certificate to her. Staff had been told to check everyones. Her comment in a very loud voice, “what’s this” I explained and she wasn’t at all pleasant. About an hour later I had an incident with her. She had the office locked, this has never happened before (she is apparently a stand in assistant while someone is off sick. No one has ever Locked the door before). I telephoned the office to ask when it might be open. I am disabled and needed another brake. My husband who helps set up for me could not leave until the table was safe. He had another appointment and was getting frustrated and anxious. One of the staff there, she had 2 in the office as witnesses while she talked with someone else, told me he had been told, “ it will be opened when it is opened”. I felt this was very strange wording. As she opened the door she shouted/spoke very loudly at me. “What is it Wilma” and went on to say something else, I didn’t hear what was being said but I think it was a referral to others who were waiting to see her, I was very embarrassed at her tone and attitude and I shouted at her, quite loudly, to leave me alone, don’t talk to me like that if you treat me this way again I will report you not to the manager but his boss. I was extremely upset as was noticed by a couple of other traders. She reported me to the managers boss. Apparently the assistant manager had a lot of witnesses. I know there were a lot of people around but I was too upset to notice who they were. This happened over 2 weeks ago. My husband, who never gets involved and saw what happened sent an email to the managers boss asking for a copy of the complaint. ( I understood complaints had to be in writing,)he also asked for the procedure for addressing complaints,a copy of abuse/violence against staff, which had been quoted, the copy being referred to could not be found on line. A copy of the same document for traders was requested. He has received nothing yet only a statement saying “it doesn’t look very good for Teddy”. Nothing about the nature of the complaint nor any documents. This has caused me even more stress. I have already had a week out of market for stress and at the moment feel I will not be able to attend this week. What is the legal advice or are markets a law unto themselves? Or should I be seeking legal advice? The stress is mainly caused by the unknown and the threat that this complaint may be raised at council for the city meeting. I have been here about 7 years, never had words with management. So I am not known , nor have I ever been a trouble maker. I am also worried about taking time off as I believe this can also count against me. Appreciate any information you can sen
Teddy - 18-Jun-19 @ 3:35 PM
Can you get sacked for bad oral hygiene (e.g. Yellow teeth)
B - 20-May-19 @ 10:59 PM
I've scratch someones car outside outside the workplace can i get sacked for it
Jud - 11-May-19 @ 6:04 PM
Hello, I was looking after a patient with a traumatic injury to his hand, his friend took many photos and video's of the treatment. He sent a photo to my phone via messenger. I was caught showing the photo to a colleague. I have now been suspended whilst there is a full investigation. Can I be dismissed for this ?
Joks - 30-Apr-19 @ 9:24 AM
Hi I work in a night club 3 nights a week. I've work here for a few months. Tonight I went out with an old college and 2 of her friends came along with us! These 2 people I have only seen once my hole life before and this time was whilst I was working within the club. Tonight one of the girls didn't get in to the club as she was using someone elses ID or fack one. I did not know this but it resulted in me and all the rest having to leave the club (my place of work) they are now saying Im going to lose my job cause I was involed. What legs do I stand on when I didn't even know the girl was underage or using someone else ID or fack one! Please be aware I'm not from this country and only came here a few months ago. Meaning the people I know here are the ones I work with as I don't have much time to socialise because of work hours. I would really appreciate someones advice on this situation. Thank you.
Coco - 23-Apr-19 @ 4:54 AM
I have been sacked after returning to work from 1 day off sick due to a heavy cold. Half hour After starting my shift i was ordered to follow the company director up to his office on entering he informed me he was"letting me go" to which i asked for what reasons, he answered because I had gone sick the previous day. "is that it"he then withdrew the previous statement and said" its because your work was not up to scratch" i asked him to be more specific he just waved his hands and remarked something about paperwork. I was then ordered to immediately vacate the building. Ive worked there for just over 18 months, ive had no mention of any problems about my work or working methods beforehand. They had even taken on and started my replacement. Have i grounds for unfair dismissal?
mrbritman - 19-Apr-19 @ 11:25 AM
A poor performing team member of mine has told me that he has a photograph of me committing an act of gross misconduct and if I challenge his performance again he will show the photograph to my superior and have me dismissed. Unsure what I am supposedly doing in this photograph or even if the photograph exists but my mind is racing. I've not worked with the individual in question in 5 years, if this photograph exists and I am committing gross misconduct could I be dismissed even though its years after the event?
IRM - 21-Mar-19 @ 7:39 PM
Major call centre trying to sack a number of staff for short calls without warnings, stating they will provide evidence with a external company. Is this exceptional
Ste - 11-Mar-19 @ 8:59 PM
after being cleared of gross misconduct. I was asked by a trustee to return to work the next morning. I did and was greeted by a manager basically asking me to go home
CLEAN2 - 30-Jan-19 @ 10:21 PM
Hi my manager doesnt like me he will regulary ignore me is generally unhelpful it is affecting my work life. I was a bit rude to a customer just my tone say anything rude or name calling now i have been called in to a meeting what can I do if they have made my working life a misery
cbb - 20-Jan-19 @ 4:49 PM
I recently went to a dental appointment in a works van I was using that day, is this a sack-able offence?
Phil - 5-Jan-19 @ 11:14 AM
A relative didn't set a security alarm when leaving work. He has never been shown or trained on what to do when closing. Apparently this is common practice as many shift managers don't do this. However when he didn't do it there was a break in over night. Can he be sacked?
Cloo - 18-Dec-18 @ 4:47 PM
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
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