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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
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Sacked from job in January. Completing maintainance on intruder

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Sacked from job in January. Completing maintainance on intruder alarm. Noticed a well made piece of furniture in the room and foolishly opened a drawer to look at the quality. Customer appeared on the stairs. I immediately closed the drawer. She asked me to leave which I did after apologising. She told my company that I was interfering with something in the draw which was untrue. I did not touch anything in the drawer. However at my disciplinary meeting the company chose to believe the customer and my employment was terminated. My letter of termination stated that this was due to going through a customers belongings which is I disagreed with at the meeting. I have worked for the company for almost 25 years. The company appears to have had a reduced workload for several months and I was due to retire in may 2016. Do I have a case for unfair dismissal.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Ben Jones :

Did they take you through a formal disciplinary procedure?

Customer:

Yes

Ben Jones :

ok let me get my response ready please

Ben Jones :

Alleged misconduct is a common reason for taking disciplinary action and it is also a potentially fair reason for dismissal under the Employment Rights Act 1996. It could be a single act of serious misconduct or a series of less serious acts over a period of time.


 


In order to justify that dismissal on grounds of misconduct was fair, the law requires that the employer:



  • Conducts a reasonable investigation;

  • Follows a fair disciplinary procedure;

  • Has reasonable grounds for believing the employee was guilty; and

  • Show that dismissal was a decision that a reasonable employer would have taken in the circumstances.


 


In addition, the employer is expected to follow the ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures. Altogether, it means that a disciplinary procedure should be conducted as follows:


 


1. Investigation - a reasonable investigation is needed. What is reasonable depends entirely on the circumstances and especially the nature and seriousness of the allegations. The more serious these are, the more detailed the investigation needs to be.


 


2. Disciplinary hearing - if the investigation provides sufficient evidence of misconduct, the employee may be invited to attend a formal disciplinary hearing. They must be given prior notice of the hearing, including details of the allegations, allowing them time to prepare. They have the legal right to be accompanied at the hearing but only by a trade union representative or a colleague.


 


3. Decision and penalty - following the disciplinary, if the employer holds a genuine belief that the employee was guilty, then they can go ahead and dismiss. When deciding on whether dismissal is appropriate, the employer should consider the nature and seriousness of the offence and the employee's length of service and disciplinary record. They also need to act with a degree of consistency if other employees have previously been disciplined over similar issues. Unless the offence was one of gross misconduct, ACAS recommends that the employee should be issued with a written warning. The issue here is that from the evidence it may prompt the employer to believe that this was attempted theft from a customer which could be a sackable offence.


 


In summary, an employer is not expected to prove that the alleged misconduct had definitely occurred. Disciplinary action will be fair if the employer can show that it had conducted a reasonable investigation, followed a fair procedure and held a genuine belief that the employee was guilty. Finally, it must show that the penalty was a reasonable action to take in the circumstances and one that a reasonable employer would have taken. If all they have is the evidence from the customer but they have no reason not to believe her and there is nothing else to prove that you were not doing as alleged, then based on that and considering this could seriously damage the reputation of the company, a dismissal could potentially take place.


 


If there are any doubts or evidence that the above requirements have not been satisfied, an appeal can be submitted to the employer straight after the disciplinary outcome is communicated. If the appeal is rejected a claim for unfair dismissal can be made in the employment tribunal. The time limit to claim is 3 months from the date of dismissal.


 

Customer:

That answers my question and backs up what I already thought. Thanks for your help

Ben Jones :

You are most welcome. Please take a second to leave a positive rating for the advice I have provided as that is an important part of our process. Thank you and feel free to bookmark my profile for future help:



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