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The Different Types Of Dismissal And Your Rights

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 25 Jun 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]
@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
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
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