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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50209
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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My employee walked out on Friday after refusing to do something

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My employee walked out on Friday after refusing to do something that was asked of him. He has no contract & I would like to know where I stand legally. I didn't dismiss him but don't necessarily want him back if he's going to behave like this.

Ben Jones : Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How long has he worked there for?
JACUSTOMER-h1qa1pb4- :

Since 5/1/1994


Any advice yet?

Ben Jones :

Apologies for the slight delay, I experienced some temporary connection issues earlier on. All seems to be resolved now so I can continue with my advice.


As the employee in question has been employed by you for more than 2 years he is protected against unfair dismissal. This means that if you wanted to terminate his employment you must not only show there was a fair reason for doing so but also follow a fair procedure. Whilst insubordination (failure to follow a reasonable instruction) can be a potentially fair reason for dismissal as it would amount to misconduct, you should be rather careful in the circumstances as we are dealing with someone with 20 years’ service. Therefore, you should not just go ahead and dismiss and need to act fairly. This would generally involve taking him through a formal disciplinary procedure and dealing with the current issues. Ideally you are looking at issuing him with a formal written warning about his recent conduct and keeping this on his file for a specified period, say 12 months. Only if there are further similar or serious issues in that period should you consider dismissal as a follow up punishment. It is too risky to just go ahead and dismiss him in the circumstances. Of course if he refuses to cooperate or return to work then you may treat this as his resignation, give him a few days to reconsider and if he has not responded, then you should write to him that you are treating his actions as his resignation and confirm the termination of his employment.


Hope this clarifies your position? If you could please let me know that would be great, thank you


Thank you. That's what I thought. Do you know if he has any entitlement to pay etc. if he doesn't return to work?


Also, he has just had a brain scan & they can't determine what the problem is at present, although the doctors say there is something wrong. He operates machinery such as grinders, polishers etc in his job & I'm wary of letting him use these if it's going to be a danger to himself or others. He has already been using a polisher that I have been told has burnt out & therefore has caused sub-standard work, which will have to be redone at my expense. I don't want the reputation of the business to suffer but I want to be fair. What should I do?

Ben Jones :

Hello, he is entitled to be paid for all time worked up to the date of him leaving and he must also be paid for any accrued holidays not yet taken.

As to the health issues you have the right to protect your business and also a duty to protect your employees, including him. If he or others are exposed to risks when he is using these machines, then you must conduct a risk assessment and determine what the risks are and deal with them in the best way possible. It could be by introducing additional safeguards, or if nothing can be done - trying to find him another suitable job in which he is not affectinh, himself, others or the business.

Ben Jones :

Hope this answers your query?

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