Employee Misconduct

Within UK employment law, there are generally two types of dismissal related to workplace conduct:

  • Misconduct
  • Gross misconduct

If your employment dismisses for misconduct, this will only be valid as ‘fair’ after receiving warnings for misconduct. Gross misconduct is grounds for dismissal immediately within an employment status without prior warning.


A case of misconduct is seen as a minor offence, for example arriving to work late or using inappropriate language while in your place of employment. Employee misconduct usually does not constitute a criminal activity.

Usually if you are accused of misconduct you will go through a warning system, first being given verbal warnings by your employer, and then moving on to written warnings if the problem continues. If you continually receive warnings you will be placed on a final written warning, which usually lasts for one year of employment.

Gross Misconduct

Gross misconduct refers to a breach of contract or misconduct in the workplace that is deemed so serious that immediate dismissal from the employment status is the only course of action to take. The employee can be instantly dismissed regardless of whether it is the first instance of misconduct.

If you are dismissed as a result of gross misconduct, there may be no obligation for your employer to give any notice period or employment pay in lieu of notice.

Employment examples of gross misconduct could include:

  • Consuming alcohol or illegal drugs while at work
  • Fighting or harassing customers or other staff members
  • Stealing
  • Discrimination based on racial or other differences
  • Sexual harassment
  • Disobeying reasonable instructions from employers

If you are dismissed by reason of gross misconduct, your employer must follow employment law government regulations that were put in place in 2004. They stipulate that:

  • Your employer must put allegations of gross misconduct in writing
  • Your employer must allow you to be accompanied by a representative or colleague
  • You must be given the right to appeal any decision taken
  • If your employer fails in any of these key requirements your dismissal will be seen as unfair, which will entitle you to up to four weeks pay for those failures alone.

If your employer has dismissed you for gross misconduct for a reason usually recognised only as minor misconduct, your chances of making a successful compensation claim to an employment tribunal could be high.

If your employer cannot justify the decision they made as one any reasonable employer would take, you could have grounds to make a claim today.

Am I Eligible to Make a Claim?

If you feel you have been unfairly dismissed because of gross misconduct, it may be necessary to enlist the help of a specialist solicitor.

Because of the sensitivity surrounding a case such as this, many solicitors will offer to take on your case on a No Win No Fee basis, meaning you could make a substantial claim with virtually no risk.