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Sacked For Gross Misconduct: After One Minor Offence?

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 13 Nov 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Sacked Employee Employer Gross

Q.

My nephew has been sacked for gross misconduct. He was dismissed for a picking/despatch error where he picked 2 orders for 2 customers but put the despatch labels on the wrong orders. He had no previous warnings for this and he was not serving any warnings at the time. The value of the order was £120.

Having made the error, he was advised of the mistake but not taken off the job or offered retraining or an improvement notice. He remianed in the same role for another week until he got a letter on Friday at the end of his shift advising he was to attend a disciplinary meeting on Monday at the beginning of his next shift. Is this reasonable? Is it really gross misconduct?

(D.R, 14 May 2009)

A.

Thank you for your letter. I’m sorry to hear of your nephew’s current situation.

I would first like to clarify if he has actually been ‘charged’ with gross misconduct, as you say that he was asked to attend a disciplinary meeting but not that this had actually been the situation. For the purposes of my answer, I will assume that he has been given notice of gross misconduct.

It is worth bearing in mind that although to an ‘outsider’ some types of gross misconduct can seem over the top, for the employees and employers who understand their role in far more detail, it may not be the case.

It is important that your nephew looks at his Employment Contract in detail before making any assumptions as to the fairness or unfairness of the situation, as this is essentially what an Employment Tribunal would do, were he to choose to go down that route. He would be entitled to appeal under the Employment Law regulations.

The details of the contract will usually highlight the nature of the types of gross misconduct that are present with his particular role and company. For example, a salesman coming in a little hungover is probably no big deal once in a while, as he’s probably encouraged to socialise with clients, but a train driver in the same situation could be practically sacked on the spot.

So, your nephew must see what his employment contract says first of all.

There are two ‘core’ types of gross misconduct; a further illustration of behaviour that has already been given the appropriate warnings, and one major event that is considered serious enough in its own right. It would seem as though your nephew falls into the second camp, so he needs to clearly understand exactly why his actions were considered so awful.

Now, this is not for you and I to judge – it is to be cross-referenced with his employment contract, considering both the ‘letter and spirit’ of the law. This may give your nephew the answer he needs, although I’m sure it will not stop him feeling terribly frustrated. If he does not feel that his mistake warrants gross misconduct in reference to his employment contract, he could appeal against the decision. He could start by approaching the Citizens Advice Bureau or speaking to the HR manager at his former employers.

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trigg - Your Question:
Ive been sacked for gross misconduct for moving a tray of bread of some ones load to my load and they got me on cttv doing it ive said ive don't it and they don't care about I do my job whitch I do good been there for 15 years and its bye bye what can I do plz

Our Response:
In this case, you may wish to give ACAS a call. Gross misconduct generally includes wrong doings such as theft, violence, gross negligence or serious insubordination. However, although the employee can be dismissed immediately, an employer should still investigate the incident and allow you a chance to respond before making the final decision to dismiss the employee. You may wish to give ACAS a call to see whether you have grounds to appeal.
WorkingRights - 14-Nov-17 @ 10:57 AM
ive been sacked for gross misconduct for moving a tray of bread of some ones load to my load and they got me on cttv doing it ive said ive don't it and they don't care about I do my job whitch I do good been there for 15 years and its bye bye what can I do plz
trigg - 13-Nov-17 @ 4:04 PM
last Oct 2016 I had a visit from two wpc officers, one being a DC. The DC officer instigated the conversation through-out their stay, whislt repeating the words "you have nothing to worry about" I was asked to recollect my work history some 30 years ago which I explained was very vague and fragmented in what I could or couldn't remember. The officer stated she did have some questions to ask but forgot them at the station and would I at some point be willing to come down and talk about them. Of course my ignorance go the better of me and agreed innocently believing she did actually forget the questions. The officer said she would call me the following week, this was not the case it was just under three weeks when I received a text apologising and that she would call later. I passed this onto my manager who stated they are probably just enquiring, it shouldn't be anything to worry about. The said meeting was arranged, and I was greeted by said officer and another male DC, who had taken me to the back of the station into a room. Whilst the male officer was introducing himself, the female had taken a tape recorder from the shelf and started to set-it up. I questioned why the tape? " to ask you some questions" the response was. I reminded her about how she had forgotten the questions at my home, so if she hadn't have forgotten them, how would she have asked them, if she required the tape, the male officer looked at her, she then asked if I wanted a Solicitor , I asked, did I need one? I then stated the conversation went from in-formal to formal, the male officer stated that my name had come up in investigations, along with others. I was then asked if I ever had a stutter, to which my response was never! I waved my rights to a solicitor stating I have nothing to hide and have never been in trouble. When they had finished questioning me, I asked was this going to come back and bite me in months to come, "no" was the response from the male officer, you have nothing to worryabout. Again I informed my manager of the above, Skip six months later, its on my DBS that I'm being investigated, I was shocked, I was asked my Occupational Manager was I aware, and "no" I did not. I am suspended from work, and have been for the last six weeks with pay, My papers of suspension state I can only talk to my Occupational Manager. My DBS was delivered wrong as I received another letter with a self-addressed envelope asking to confirm my address, I called them up and was asked if I received a letter with my DBS stating although under investigation, I can still remain working within the same environment I informed my Oc Manager who asked me to bring a copy to her when I receive it, which I did, she also stated she was trying to get me to go on a work day course with other staff, this never materialised. Another letter of Suspension for a further 3 weeks, and no word from any manager. I had spoken to ACAS, and a Solicitor wh
david furey - 7-Apr-17 @ 2:16 PM
"Can they actually do this withoutproving he was or wasn't drunk?" Yes it's a civil matter so they dont need to prove anything they just have to have a reasonable suspicion.Up to two years you have no employment rights anyway ( unless you can claim discrimination ).At the bottom of the employment pile you see the same patters over and over.. employees treated as replacable parts and a total lack of trust often to the point of paranoia.GM should be reserved for fundamental breaches of contract that are genuinely dangerous to the business.What GM means is simply seriousbreach of contract which can cover many sins...I'm afraid it sounds like he was silly enough to give them an excuse to sack him.Wasnt exactly employee of the year.In this case if I was young I might just say if asked "yes it was my fault ... Turned up pissed".True or not if it's minor pre-empting the bad reference may work.But no one's ever asked me... If you ask them nicely they'll probably agree to a neutral dates only reference.Worth reading their glassdoor page.People do.
NaughtyBoy - 11-Jan-17 @ 6:52 AM
"Jay - Your Question: My son inlaw has been sacked for gross misconduct today after a less than 5 min hearing with his HRLast week he used his desk telephone to phone my daughter " Hum this is not gross misconduct it is just misconduct.Gross misconduct should be defined in your son's contract and/or employee handbook.I've been sacked multiple times including for gross misconduct because I'm a very bad boy but I dont think it actually made any difference to my career.I just had a few periods where I was down on my luck and worked for awful employers and/or did jobs I was completely unsuited to purely for the £s."Gross misconduct" is something employers tend to throw out when they need to cull the workforce or want to get out of paying notice pay or redunancy.Unless you've had your hand in the till or slapped someone or broken serious regulatory rules or stolen more than stationary or repeatedly broken rules and had official warnings for it ... It's not gross misconduct.The reason people go for GM is they want you out the company ASAP and the threat of being grassed to the Job Centre and not getting benefits gets most people to go quietly.Top tips: dont panic.Get from your employer a letter stating the reasons for your dismissal.Chances are they will chicken out of writing GM and just say "work not up to required standard".From a business perspective there's nothing in it for a business to badmouth you.That doesnt mean they wont but if someone's got a good impression from you at an interview they probably wont care what an ex manager says.Job interviews dont tell and you probably wont be asked and you probably wont be asked directly unless you're going for a high trust position.Just get another job.There are loads of jobs (pullung pints, stacking shelves, call centres) that dont care about references and that will get your last employer off your CV.Many have high turnovers and dont care what you used to do... Unless you've done something fraudy most people will still employ you.You might feel at the bottom of the pile but there are always plenty of people below.People with criminal records.People without qualification.They find work.Why?Well, you can't live on the dole... So...
NaughtyBoy - 11-Jan-17 @ 6:14 AM
I was sacked for gross misconduct as I worked as a colleague in retail for 2 years (part-time). I am in final year of university looking to go into a graduate job in the science field. Will this show up on my DBS check and will potential employers find out if I omit it from my CV? Thanks
Akanich - 19-Mar-16 @ 5:27 PM
Jay - Your Question:
My son inlaw has been sacked for gross misconduct today after a less than 5 min hearing with his HRLast week he used his desk telephone to phone my daughter (common practice to use desk phone by all sales team for private calls) soon after his call he was asked to see his manager, the manager said they had listened to this call (had been recorded) His conversation in the call started with "bit of a hangover , still feel drunk" followed by a laugh and then continued to discuss what they might have for dinner that evening.My son inlaw was asked to leave the building straight away. His hearing was today, they were not at all interested in the fact that he was not drunk and it was just hearsay and banter with his wife. Can they actually do this without proving he was or wasn't drunk?

Our Response:
I think in this instance you should give ACAS a call via the link here regarding whether his employer has acted within the guidelines.
WorkingRights - 2-Sep-15 @ 12:46 PM
My son inlaw has been sacked for gross misconduct today aftera less than 5 min hearing with his HR Last week he used his desk telephone to phone my daughter (common practice to use desk phone by all sales team for private calls)soon after his call he was asked to see his manager, the manager said they had listened to this call (had been recorded) His conversation in the call started with "bit of a hangover , still feel drunk" followed by a laugh and then continued to discuss what they might have for dinner that evening. My son inlaw was asked to leave the building straight away. His hearing was today, they were not at all interested in the fact that he was not drunk and it was just hearsay and banter with his wife. Can they actually do this withoutproving he was or wasn't drunk?
Jay - 1-Sep-15 @ 6:13 PM
Is a employee liable for accidental damage whilst at work
Albi - 13-Apr-15 @ 5:57 PM
@tatt - if your new employer seeks a reference from your previous employer, your previous employer is likely to state that you were dismissed for gross misconduct, especially as the reference request may ask the question; reason for leaving. Any reference given has to be factually accurate and true. I hope this helps.
WorkingRights - 23-Mar-15 @ 11:44 AM
Hello, my question is I lost my job for gross mis conduct, now got another job and the new employer is going to ask for reference?can my old employer give a bad reference? and where do I stand legally if they do?
tatt - 19-Mar-15 @ 2:24 PM
@Stumpy - According to Acas the law does not set out a specific disciplinary process for employers to follow. However, employers are expected to follow a fair procedure. The Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures has a guide that sets out core principles for handling disciplinary proceedings fairly and reasonably. I have included a direct link here. You can also call its helpline direct on 0300 123 1100 for free and impartial advice. I hope this helps.
WorkingRights - 25-Nov-14 @ 11:19 AM
hi, my son works at a private childrens nursery and has been there for over 3 years. He loves his job and working with the children. recently there have been some refurbishments at nursery. A few days ago he came home from work very subdued which is unusual for him. After some prompting he finally told me that he has had a discplinary at work from his manager about a petty incident which he has explained to her but his manager had already told other staff that she was going to discipline him, when he was on his day off, one of the other staff members got in touch with him and told him what they had all been told. so when he went back to work he was disciplined not only in front of all the other members of staff but also in front of some of the children. Totally out of order. None of the staff have a written contract nor do they have any info on disciplinary proceduresis this legal. He hasnt slept much for the last 5 nights as he is so unhappy at the moment.The incident that he has been disciplined for is, when he had locked up after everyone had left he had left his opened can of fizzy drink behind and he hadnt realised until he was halfway home. one of the women he works with told the manager the next day that he had done it on purpose to annoy them. which is how he ended up with the disciplinary.
stumpy - 24-Nov-14 @ 12:34 AM
Hi, I was sacked for gross misconduct in which I deserved. The question I'd like to ask is can the employer tell another employee why I was sacked.
Tony - 3-Oct-14 @ 2:25 PM
I started working in a school four weeks ago as a cleaner , my DBS check has just come back with four convictions on dating back 25 years . I left my previous job to start there . Should they have given me the job without the check being back first ?
Book - 24-Apr-14 @ 10:27 AM
Attending a disciplinary hear, which could result in gross misconduct for puffing my vapour stick (form of ecig).I have given up smoking and work for a retail company and there is no mention of this in the employee handbook. The company are treating it as smoking,when I took a puff it was in the back and not in view.Need any advice thanks.
maz - 9-Dec-13 @ 7:08 PM
I have got meet for unsatisfactory conduct detail eating tasters behind counter during work I have got last warning ongin due to gross miscounduct is it more than likely I will be sacked
bridget - 8-Sep-13 @ 12:31 PM
After losing a lot of time from work this year due to illness myself & familyI used my holiday entitlement early. ThenI had to go to the hospital for another appointment, I always send my boss a text message to let him no what is happening if he doesn't know beforehand. After having the Friday off he deducted 2 days of my pay which I knew he would, then on the 2/7/13 he asked me to sit with him and another director while he said how angry he was with me as he never received the text and that on the Monday when I came back in he couldn't even talk to me he was that mad. Then he told me he had sought legal advice regarding what he could do as I have been here 5 years. He was told that he had to give me a final warning for gross misconduct in writing about my position and time off etc. He has never given me a warning prior to this and never even mentioned any time I have had off. No one covers my post whilst I'm away ill I have to catch up on my return although Im not paid for it. Is this right can he give me a final written warning just off the one day because my text never got through, and is this misconduct gross. What can I do besides find another job which I am trying to do anyway.
pettylicious - 9-Jul-13 @ 1:36 PM
I have been working for a company for eight years, my Boss has know idea about the business we are in. and does not understand the market for recruitment in general she has told me I have not been making target which I do know, and have tried to make money in other area's which she does not count. but she has told me I have to make all the targets in three months otherwise I will be sacked. I can not go into it but there are a lot of other factors as well am I entitled to anything? can it stop me claiming unemployment
SYLVIEC - 13-Jun-13 @ 3:36 PM
myself and a fellow worker were dismissed for gross misconduct.We both worked for the same company. As we are also friends and live closeby, a couple we would talk about work in our home. Someone over heard the conversation and wrote an anonomous letter. We received the letter on a Tuesday and was called in on the Wednesday for a disiplinary meeting. We both admitted to the allegation and for that we both got instant dismal. My friend on the other hand also admitted taking her friend into the home to meet a client. Do you have any advice on the matter and is this unfair dismal as neither of us had a written warning previous to this allegation.
munchkin - 16-May-13 @ 12:06 PM
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