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Dismissing an employee for gross misconduct

When dealing with misconduct, employers may have a good reason to dismiss an employee, but if they don’t follow the correct procedure they may incur additional nancial cost, time and exposure for their pharmacy as they may be forced to defend Employment Tribunal claims.

Now that employees do not have to pay a fee to access an Employment Tribunal, they may feel that they have nothing to lose and lots to gain. With this mind, the NPA Employment Law Advisory Service looks into the issue of gross misconduct and answers some commonly asked questions.

What could amount to gross misconduct?
Gross misconduct is an act which is so serious that it justi es dismissal without notice, or pay in lieu of notice, for a first offence.

Examples of acts of gross misconduct include theft, fraud, refusal to carry out reasonable instructions, violent behaviour or wilful damage to property.

In your Employee Handbook, you should set out examples of acts which will be considered gross misconduct and include any conduct specific to the pharmacy sector. The NPA Employment Law Advisory Service Team can help you with this.

Does this mean you can just dismiss an employee on the spot? Even in cases of gross misconduct, you still need to follow a fair procedure. If you do dismiss the employee instantly, it is likely that you will face a claim of unfair dismissal.

What constitutes a fair procedure?

A fair disciplinary procedure involves investigating the matter, informing the employee of the issue, holding a disciplinary hearing, allowing them to be accompanied, letting them respond to the allegations and giving them the chance to appeal.

In cases of suspected gross misconduct, it may be necessary to suspend the employee from work on full pay while the investigation is taking place, for example, in order to carry out an unhindered investigation. It should be made clear to the employee that this is not a disciplinary sanction and the suspension should be as short as possible and be kept under review.

If you do suspend when it is not reasonable to do so or for longer than necessary, it could lead to the risk of constructive dismissal. This occurs if an employee is forced to resign because an employer has done something that seriously breaches their contract of employment.

To discuss this further, contact the NPA Employment Law Advisory Service Team.
You call them on on 0330 123 0558 or email employmentadvice@npa.co.uk




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