Guide

Dismissing employees

Dismissals on conduct grounds

If you find that an employee has been involved in an incident of misconduct, the action you take depends on how serious it was. For example:

  • If the misconduct relates to a minor issue, the penalty for a first offence would normally be a verbal warning. This would be followed by a written warning if the offence is repeated within a specified timescale. Further occurrences would result in a final written warning and ultimately dismissal if repeated again.
  • If the misconduct relates to a more serious issue, the employer may issue a final written warning for a first offence followed by dismissal for any further repeat of the offence within a specified time scale.
  • The Labour Relations Agency (LRA) Code of Practice applies the statutory procedures to the issue of warnings as a matter of good practice.
  • If the misconduct is of a very serious nature, the employer may dismiss for a first offence.
  • No disciplinary action should be taken until there has been a thorough investigation into the alleged misconduct.
  • Details of the alleged misconduct should be set out in writing and given to the employee prior to any hearing taking place.
  • The employee must be offered the right to appeal against any decision taken within the formal procedure
  • Throughout the formal process, employees have the right to be accompanied to all meetings and appeal meetings and to appeal to a more senior manager - ideally one not involved in the initial meetings
  • The LRA Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures recommends that verbal warnings would remain on file for a six month period and written warnings for a 12 month period.

(Discipline and dismissal have a statutory procedure which must be followed and if it is not, where it applies, this may result in a finding of automatic unfair dismissal.)