Gross Misconduct: What Is It and What Legal Solutions Can You Apply as an Employer?

Many of us may think that gross misconduct is related to such obvious aspects as theft, harassment, or aggression in a workplace. Yet, there is so much more to the topic. Besides those violations mentioned above, as an employer, you can also dismiss a person if they are incapable of doing their job according to the required standard or in case of insubordination. 

Image Source: Shuttestock

If there are some behaviours that might negatively impact the work environment and other workers, and are against the company’s policy, you are legally empowered to let go of your employee. However, remember to treat each case individually, as there may be health issues or other solvable problems involved – sometimes, you may be able to provide the necessary help.

But if the matter is serious and keeping your team member might pose a threat to your organization, you can try some legal solutions. Keep reading to find out more about your options.

Types of Misconduct

Before we dive into the gross misconduct solutions, you’d definitely want to learn the difference between similar behaviours. 

There are three different types of potential employee misconduct:

Gross Misconduct

Gross misconduct describes disturbances such as serious insubordination, harassment, bullying, threats, violence, and non-compliance with regulations and commitments. In that case, you should dismiss the employee by following fair and law-regulated procedures. This process should involve an investigation of the incidents and give the accused the opportunity to respond.

Serious Misconduct

If some actions of an employee have seriously harmed your business, you have the right to write a warning regarding the underperformance and misconduct. It usually concerns one-time offence and might start the process of gross misconduct if there is no improvement in the employee’s behaviour. This procedure might be challenging, especially for new and small organizations. In this case, it is best to find a business that offers support with gross misconduct that will provide the necessary help and make the process less stressful.

One-off Incidents

If your employee has a good disciplinary record and is willing to improve their performance, you are dealing with a one-off incident. The most common way to handle it is by having an informal discussion to resolve the issue.

How to Carry Out Gross Misconduct Procedure

To successfully implement the gross misconduct procedure, you need to take the following steps:

  1. Arrange a meeting with the employee and discuss the reasons and negative impact of their actions. It should be a free discussion where both sides have time for explanation. It is when you issue the first official warning if the reasons aren’t acceptable. The most important part of this step is to tell your employee what your expectations are and what you want them to improve in a defined time frame. If there are not enough positive changes in their behaviour and performance after that time, you will have grounds for issuing the final written warning.
  1. Hold a second meeting in case of no improvements after the first deadline. Give your employee a chance of explaining their behaviour and problems. If the answer is not satisfying enough, it is time to issue the final written warning. Set up an improvement plan within defined timeframes and attentively pinpoint what you want to achieve. Then, emphasize that in case of no improvement from their side, you might consider dismissal. You might want an HR expert to assist you during that meeting.
  1. Have a third meeting to inform your employee about your decision. If there was no improvement, you need to warn your employee that in this case, the dismissal might take place within a couple of days. If you decide to let them go, you should give them a notice. Generally, employees will continue to work until the end of the notice period unless agreed otherwise. The statutory notice may include different timeframes. If your employee has worked for you from:
  • 1 month to 2 years – the minimum notice is 1 week long,
  • 2 – 12 years – the minimum notice is 1 week multiplied by years worked long,
  • 12 or more – the minimum notice is 12 weeks long.

The Bottom Line

Gross misconduct might be a challenging process for both sides of the situation. It is crucial to hold several meetings to discuss the matter thoroughly and understand the employee’s behaviour. You might not know about their health or family problems, which could cause significantly decreased work performance. Create a plan of improvement to clearly set goals for your workers and keep motivating them. If those solutions won’t help, you might want to consider dismissing the person according to the statutory notice guidelines. We hope this article has helped you, as an employer, to understand the process of gross misconduct a bit better.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top