Should we Always Dismiss for Gross Misconduct?
It is quite a topical subject at present with the media focussing on Alan Pardew from Newcastle United and the head butting incident.
Having dealt with a number of operational disciplinary matters, recent events lead me to consider questions about the process and the implications when Gross Misconduct doesn’t actually lead to termination for a key worker.
A finding of Gross Misconduct, once a thorough investigation has been completed, should lead to dismissing an employee without notice. But then with a more commercial “head” on and thinking about the business needs (or the place in the premiership in Alan Pardew’s case), we have to ask questions:
- Is the person involved a key player?
- What experience, skills and knowledge do we stand to lose if dismissal is the sanction?
- Are there any mitigating circumstances that should be considered?
- Is the key worker genuinely remorseful?
- Were they provoked?
All of these are valid questions to ask.
Setting a precedent
When the answers to one or more questions is ‘yes’, and its clear that a person is crucial to the success of the organisation, then in my experience, individuals have been treated much more leniently. You might particularly want to be more lenient with senior members of staff and high performers. But the precedent that is set could then lead you to future problems. Especially when trying to apply processes fairly and consistently, should similar instances arise in the future. Inconsistency can make a dismissal substantially more difficult to defend if that dismissal is contested in an Employment Tribunal.
This is a gamble you can chose to take or not to take. But you can see how they were applied in Alan Pardew’s case.
Anita Manfredi of Employer Solutions – QCS HR Expert Contributor
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