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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50165
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I run a small business employing 13 people, including a

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Hi, I run a small business employing 13 people, including a full time bookkeeper / office manager. I have recently noticed that she has been getting emails from Total Jobs regarding bookkeeping job opportunities, sent to her work email address. I have also noticed that she is often looking at employment websites and non work related sites during work hours on her work PC. I decided to look through her emails and have found that she is doing a fair amount of personal emails on her work email. I have also found an Email in which she is being derogatory to myself and to the workplace in communication with an ex-employee. On top of this she is getting into the habit of making personal calls during work hours too.
I had a meeting with her on October 14th to discuss all these points. She basically agreed that she would stop the personal emails and calls.
However I now feel that our relationship has been damaged, possibly beyond repair. She has not apologised for her actions and although I never asked for an apology, I think that would have helped. My co-director has told me that she made a personal call on Friday when I was out of the office for a while.
So in essence I am wondering what I should do now? I am thinking of having a formal meeting with her a giving her a verbal warning about her conduct but at the same time I am just thinking that I have had enough of her, but I don't know if I can sack her for gross misconduct on the grounds that she has broken the relationship of trust and confidence between employer and employee because of her disparaging email, composed in work time on her work email.
Hello, my name is***** am a solicitor on this site and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.hoe long has she worked there for and dos you have the right to look through her emails such as under a workplace policy?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

She has been in my employ for nearly 4 years.

We have no specific email policy in our contract.

The email address she is using is her work email address, not her personal one which I would obviously not try to read. The emails are in work hours on a works PC.

Thank you for your response. I will review the relevant information and will get back to you as soon as possible. Please do not respond to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Sorry - am I still awaiting your reply??

Yes sorry I won't be able to reply until this evening as I am not online full time at the weekend. Thanks for your patience
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

OK no problem, thanks

Many thanks for your patience. The starting point is that she has more than 2 years service with you so will be protected against unfair dismissal. This means that you need to find a fair reason for dismissing her and also follow a fair procedure. In the circumstances I would not say that you have enough to justify an instant dismissal for gross misconduct. Also I have concerns about how you have obtained the evidence you would want to use against her. She may have made derogatory remarks about you to someone else using her work email but that does not give you the right just to go through them. There is still a right to privacy, even hen using work emails, so you really need to have an email monitoring policy so she knows what could be checked and what can’t.
So in the circumstances I suggest you still discipline her and follow any formal disciplinary policy you have in place, but issue her with a warning (it could be a written one) and advise her that further misconduct could result n a final warning or even dismissal, depending on how serious it is.
You have to be rather careful with employees who are protected against unfair dismissal because failing to follow a fair procedure or being overly keen to dismiss without considering the circumstances could make the dismissal unfair and she could make a claim against you. So play it on the safe side and issue her with a warning, which would hopefully ensure there are no further issues, and if there are you could consider taking further disciplinary action.
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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