What is Gross Misconduct, and How Do You Deal with it?


Out of all the issues that could happen between staff members or between employee and employer, gross misconduct is probably highest on the ladder – the thing to be taken most seriously, and the thing to be most careful with when dealing with the matter. Gross misconduct is a serious breach of contract and something that has enough gravity to destroy the employer-employee relationship.

It certainly isn’t easy to go through the process and bring it to a satisfying conclusion, and though it may look straightforward, it should really be handled with lots of care and forethought. If you’re faced with such a difficult situation, then this one’s for you: what is gross misconduct, and how do you deal with it?

Common examples

Gross misconduct can come in many forms, and is more often than not serious grounds for immediate dismissal from the company. Here are just some common examples:

  • Creating unfair competition or collaborating with competition, creating conflicts of interest

  • Industrial espionage

  • Theft

  • Violence in the workplace

  • Bullying or discrimination

  • Dishonesty

  • Sabotage

  • Gross insubordination or not following instructions

  • Dangerous or reckless behaviour

  • Working under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and so on.

It’s important that the employee understands that there is no complete list, and that there are many examples.

Basic guidelines

The employees should be given a handbook with examples (and a broad definition of gross misconduct), but it should also be mentioned that the list is not exhaustive. There should also be an explanation of how the company deals with this, what the procedures are, how this is conducted and executed, as well as the code of practice.

Clauses in the contract

Whilst the employee contract should not necessarily define or exemplify gross misconduct, there should definitely be a clause that tackles this issue, with reference (for example) to a manual or handbook in which more detailed explanation is given.

Proper procedures

Note that when alcohol or drugs are involved, it should primarily be treated as a matter of ability and should only be aggravated to gross misconduct after repeated warnings are ignored.

Lesser offenses

Whilst lesser offenses don’t constitute gross misconduct, they may – accumulatively – also lead to serious offenses and reason for dismissal.

Because gross misconduct is such a serious offense, it’s important that the matter is dealt with in the proper way, with a proper investigation and a recorded interview which is accurately transcribed by an outside service such as https://www.alphabetsecretarial.co.uk/ – even though the case may seem straightforward and simple to the outsider, there are many internal issues as well as legal considerations to take into account. Moreover, it’s important to learn from the experience and adjust the company’s policies and procedures so these things can be prevented, or at least dealt with in a better way in the future.

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