Gross misconduct refers to an employee’s negative behaviour deemed so severe it warrants summary dismissal without the usual contractual obligations of a notice period.
Employers should take note that summary dismissal does not mean immediate dismissal, and that failing to follow procedures – even if the employee was caught red-handed – could result in a claim for unfair dismissal being brought against the company. Suspension should be the first course of action – it doesn’t assume guilt and allows an investigation to take place.
Conduct that could be classified as gross misconducts includes sexual harassment or serious bullying, coming to work under the influence of drugs, violence , theft and sabotage of client and supplier relationships. All employers define gross misconduct differently, but a key litmus test is whether the misconduct damages the employer/employee relationship beyond repair.
Employment contracts should classify clearly what counts as gross misconduct to protect the employer in the event of a tribuna
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