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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70842
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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Is it a firable offence if an employee has a relationship

Customer Question

Is it a firable offence if an employee has a relationship with a customer in hotel retail business UK?
JA: Was this discussed with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: No.
JA: Does the workplace operate with employees, freelancers, consultants, contractors or with unionised employees?
Customer: yes
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: no
Submitted: 10 days ago.
Category: Law
Customer: replied 10 days ago.
Both parties are adults.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 10 days ago.

Hello, I’m Ben. It’s my pleasure to assist you today. I may also ask for some preliminary information to help me determine the legal position.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 10 days ago.

Hi there. Please explain the circumstances in more detail and does your employer have a policy on such relationships? Also, how long have you worked there for?

Customer: replied 10 days ago.
No I am the customer.
Customer: replied 10 days ago.
I am a hotel guest. And I am a consensual adult with a employee who works at this hotel.
Customer: replied 10 days ago.
Customer: replied 10 days ago.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 10 days ago.

OK I understand and thank you for providing this information. Please do not worry and leave it with me for now; I will get back to you with my answer as soon as I can, which will be at some point today. The system will notify you when this happens. Please do not reply in the meantime as this may unnecessarily delay my response. Many thanks.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 10 days ago.

Many thanks for your patience, I am pleased to be able to continue assisting with your query now. Can I just check if you know how long the employee has worked there for?

Customer: replied 10 days ago.
I think a couple of years i believe
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 10 days ago.

Thank you very much for clarifying. Being in a relationship with a customer should not automatically result in a dismissal of the employee in question. What is important, however, is whether there is a workplace policy which prohibits such conduct and if that is the case, then the employer could indeed seek disciplinary action for breach of a specific workplace policy.

Even if no such policy exists, the employer could still look into this if as a result of the relationship, there is untoward conduct between these individuals. For example, if the employee provides discounts which would not have ordinarily been due to the customer, provides other preferential treatment whilst at work, engages in any sexual activity whilst at work, or on the premises and so on.

Finally, even if none of the above factors apply, there is also a final risk depending on their length of service. For the sake of simplicity I will assume that the employee is female.

The main issue in the circumstances is if she has only been continuously employed at her place of work for less than 2 years. That means that her employment rights will, unfortunately, be somewhat limited. Most importantly, she will not have legal protection against unfair dismissal. This basically means that her employer can dismiss her for more or less any reason, and without following a fair procedure, as long as the decision is not based on a reason which makes a dismissal automatically unfair. They can proceed with a dismissal even if she had done nothing wrong and also without following any specific fair procedure or proving that any of the allegations are true.

As mentioned, there are some exceptions to this, in which case the 2-year rule does not apply. These include situations where the dismissal was wholly, or partly, due to:

- Discrimination due to a protected characteristic (i.e. because of gender, race, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, etc.)

- Taking, or trying to take, leave for family reasons including pregnancy, maternity leave, parental leave, adoption leave or leave for dependants

- Raising concerns about health and safety or other unlawful acts by the employer and being penalised as a result by being dismissed

However, if the dismissal had nothing to do with any of the above exceptions, she would not be able to challenge it due to not meeting the minimum service criteria for claiming in the Employment Tribunal. In that case her only protection would be if she was dismissed in breach of contract. That would usually happen if she was not paid any contractual notice period due to her, unless she was dismissed for gross misconduct. That is where she is guilty of something very serious which justifies immediate dismissal, without any notice pay.

In any other circumstances, she would be due a minimum notice period, as per her contract and associated pay. If she did not have a written contract in place she would be entitled to the minimum statutory notice period of 1 week. The employer would either have to allow her to work that notice period and pay her as normal, or they can decide to pay her in lieu of notice. That is when she is paid for the equivalent of the notice period but her employment is terminated immediately and she is not expected to work through her notice period.

Hopefully, I have answered your query in a way that is simple and easy to understand. If anything remains unclear, I will be more than happy to clarify it for you. In the meantime, thank you once again for using our services.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 9 days ago.

I hope that your query has been answered to your satisfaction. I just wanted to take this opportunity to remind you that if you needed any further clarification with this query, you should not hesitate to contact me and I will be happy to help. For now, thank you for using our services.