Thank you. It doesn't sound like a very serious or something that can be described as a misconduct
In order to justify that disciplinary action on grounds of misconduct is fair, the law requires that the employer does the following:
- Conducts a reasonable investigation;
- Follows a fair disciplinary procedure; and
- Shows they had reasonable grounds to believe the employee was guilty
In addition, the employer is expected to follow the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance procedures, which can be incorporated into their own disciplinary policy. It sets out various steps along the process that the employer has to follow to ensure the process is fair.
When deciding on the appropriate penalty, the employer should consider the nature and seriousness of the offence, any mitigating factors and the employee's length of service and disciplinary record. Other aspects, like expressing remorse and apologising and there being evidence the issues were innocent or unintentional should also help to a degree. Unless the offence was one of gross misconduct (which it does not appear to be), ACAS recommends that the employee is issued with a written warning for a first offence.
In summary, the requirements of proof are not as stringent as in criminal law and an employer is not expected to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the alleged misconduct had definitely occurred. A decision on the balance of probabilities will be sufficient and disciplinary action will be fair if the employer can show that it had met the above criteria, namely conducting a reasonable investigation, following a fair procedure and holding a genuine belief that the employee was guilty. Finally, it must show that the penalty was one that a reasonable employer would have taken in the circumstances.
If there is evidence that the employer has not followed a fair procedure as outlined above, the outcome can be formally appealed with the employer.
If the disciplinary results in dismissal, then you will not be able to bring a claim for unfair dismissal because you do not have 2 years' continuous service with the employer.