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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 48797
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Please can you help. My boyfriend faces the sack from work

Customer Question

Hi please can you help. My boyfriend faces the sack from work and I want to know if there is potentially a case for unfair dismissal? The scenario is that his company van was used without his knowledge by myself and I was involved in a slight accident. The other party reported it to the company and that day, they came and took the vehicle and all work related items from my boyfriend and suspended him whilst they investigate. Can they sack him even though he did not consent to the van being used?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is***** am a solicitor on this site and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How long has he worked there for?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
3 years
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi, just for further info, it is a maintenance and building company, with 1 of its contracts being with tower hamlets council. No one else is supposed to drive the van
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Did he breach any policies in the process, such as having the van at home when he should not have, etc?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No I don't believe so
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Whilst I would hope that dismissal can be avoided here, that is still a possibility. This is mainly because the employer does not have to go to the same lengths as a criminal court may have to for example and prove that he was 100% guilty before making a decision. As far as the law stands, 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. So this is where the investigation would matter because if after it the employer believes h was in some guilty, or that he may have given you permission to drive the van, they could still make decision based on that genuine belief, even if in reality it was different. They cannot necessarily prove that you took it without consent and if their investigation shows that he may have perhaps given consent and they believe that to be the case, they could discipline or even dismiss based on that. 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 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 and the claimant needs to have at least 2 years' continuous service with that employer. I trust this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page). If for any reason you are unhappy with my response or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your help, it's been very helpful.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
You are welcome, all the best