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The Different Types Of Dismissal And Your Rights

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 3 Jun 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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[Add a Comment]
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
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
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
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