If allegations of misconduct have been made against you then you have been accused of behaving in an unacceptable or improper manner at work. If you’ve been accused of something of this nature then it may be a stressful and confusing time for you – an allegation of misconduct can potentially lead (in appropriate circumstances) to your being dismissed from your job. This article therefore aims to provide information and guidance to employees on what misconduct is and what you should do if you’re accused of misconduct at work. It covers the following issues:
- What is misconduct?
- Does it matter if the misconduct is at work or outside work?
- What can happen if I’m accused of misconduct at work?
- Can I be fired if I’m accused of misconduct at work?
What is misconduct?
As above, misconduct is defined as “unacceptable or improper behaviour”. Misconduct at work is therefore behaviour of this nature that occurs in the workplace. It can cover a wide range of situations including sexual harassment, theft, negligence or assault, to name but a few.
Does it matter if the misconduct is at work or outside work?
If the misconduct occurred in the workplace then this will obviously be fairly serious to your employer. Depending on the nature of the misconduct, what you’re accused of could affect your ability to do your job, damage the relationship between you or your employer, or affect your personal and professional relationships with other employees.
If the misconduct is outside of work then it can still affect your employer adversely. For example, if you’re accused of a serious criminal offence that occurred outside the workplace then this may affect your relationship with clients or customers of your employer. This has the potentially to adversely affect your employer. However, your employer should treat you reasonably and should ideally conduct an investigation into the alleged misconduct to determine whether they believe what you’re accused of is true.
What can happen if I’m accused of misconduct at work?
There are a number of possible outcomes if you’re accused of misconduct at work:
- The “case” against you is dropped; or
- You receive an informal warning; or
- You receive a formal (potentially written) warning; or
- You are dismissed from your job
Your employer, as above, should conduct an investigation into the alleged misconduct. You may be suspended from work while the investigation and any disciplinary is ongoing but your suspension must be reasonable in all the circumstances and not just a “knee jerk” decision. After the investigation your employer may decide that you should undergo a disciplinary hearing to decide whether you should be disciplined because of the allegations. If the outcome of the disciplinary hearing is unsatisfactory to you then you should appeal it (using this disciplinary appeal letter, if you wish). You may also wish to submit a grievance regarding how the disciplinary has been handled (using this grievance letter template, if you wish). If the outcome of your disciplinary appeal hearing is unsatisfactory then you may wish to seek further advice from a specialist employment solicitor or your Trade Union.
Can I be fired if I’m accused of misconduct at work?
The short answer to this question is “yes”. However, if your employer chooses to dismiss you as a result of the allegations of misconduct made against you then their decision must have been both procedurally and substantively fair. They must have therefore made a decision to dismiss you which was based on a fair and consistent procedure (and outcome) and should have made a decision to dismiss based on the facts which was honest, genuine, and based on a reasonable and fair investigation.
Direct 2 Lawyers offer free employment law advice for employers and free employment law advice for employees. The specialist employment solicitors they use offer employment law advice, are no win no fee unfair dismissal solicitors and offer Employment Tribunal representation.