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The Different Types Of Dismissal And Your Rights

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 31 Jul 2021 | 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, I have worked at my job for nearly 7 years, good worker and no problems, I called another colleague lazy due to a work related action and she heard me, I am now being investigated, will I get the sack.
Barney - 11-Jan-21 @ 1:31 PM
My depot controller told us whatever is damaged and thrown off we could take once is out of the depot. A box of wine was thrown off because a bottle was broken out of it I took it 3 days after my field manager sacked without allowing me to explain to him what happened even when the depot controller explained to him he wouldn’t listen. I am at home now waiting for the appeal I have written to my company. Is this an offence what I have done.
Mico - 24-Nov-20 @ 9:34 PM
I was sacked for gross misconduct for having two days off with a broken and crushed finger.. I was signed off for two weeks and then the hospital made me fit for work after 3 days into my sickness. I went back the day I was made fit and worked all day, had a dissaplinary at the end of my shift then sent home and sacked through email. Only ever had one warning!! Discusting and very unfair and I am sueing
Rubes - 25-Aug-20 @ 7:43 PM
I have been suspended on the grounds of misconduct as I spoke to a work colleague that I dont recollect as I have been so anxious with all the covid 19 lack of support from management I work in a care home and my boss as shouted at me undermined me and made inappropriate comments.. I went through the correct channels to a md and above and was forced into having a meeting.. I have had a glowing reference for almost 4 years and was being considered for management. We were left alone during the height of covid feeling so anxious and very let down with the company.
Don - 7-Jul-20 @ 10:12 PM
i was talking to a work colleague and the audio in cab picked us up talking about the transport manager in a derogatory way, it resulted in a performance review meeting. Taken by the transport manager and HR when i questioned the use of the audio (which isn't signed up)i was led to believe would only be used to accident purposes not in disciplinary proceedings HR told me that they can use it for what ever they want. It resulted in a written warning
Brad99 - 16-Jun-20 @ 6:51 PM
I was accussed of bad mouthing my line manager, by a new started colleague, I was also accused of shouting at the line manager and at the new colleague. My voice was raised but I wasn't shouting, can my employer dismiss me for this?
Tp68 - 8-Jun-20 @ 1:54 PM
My supervisor has been suspended till further notice due to an argument with a work colleague. This has been brewing for awhile as the colleague has had eye on supervisors job for a while, she has constantly interfered in the supervisors running of workforce and is always messaging our area manager Sincethe suspension of supervisor she has stepped in and took over her job. Shouldnt both supervisor and the member of staff of been suspended until investigation complete, as it seems unfair
Di - 16-Jan-20 @ 9:31 AM
A colleague of mine kicked out the wrong customer. Case of mistaken identity. I asked the customer could i take a picture of them to send to my colleague through facebook messenger to make sure he had kicked out the right customer. He gave me his permission and so i took the picture. Thats when we realised that the wrong customer had been evicted. The next day i came in to work to be given a final warning (bearing in mind id never gotten a single warning before hand) all because id taken a photo even though i have permission to do so.
DOOPY - 24-Dec-19 @ 2:21 AM
I was working as a team leader at a tesco. my wife left me for another man which led to me having a breakdown and the doctor signing me off sick so that i could go to the hospital. my store manager didnt like me, as he had not been allowed to choose who to promote and i had been sent in from another store by the area manager. the store manager lied and said that he never recieved a sick note even though i had personaly handed it to him. when i got out of the hospital and tried to return to work he informed me that he had sacked me for 'going a.w.o.l.', even though he was well aware i was not without leave. this ended up putting me BACK into the hospital as soon as ii got out because the career i had been building had been taken away because the gay store manager only ever promoted other gay people and therefore didn't like me from day one. obviously, me being put back into hospital prevented me from bringing this to tribunal at the time. when it looked like i was seeking legal action, the store manager got moved to a smaller shop in the middle of nowhere rather than being in any way repromanded because he had been known to accuse anyone criticizing him of homophobia, even when he was clearly in the wrong. is there anything i can do about this? it just feels wrong.
ryan - 6-Nov-19 @ 8:53 PM
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
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