Gross Misconduct: Can it affect future employment?

What if you have lost your job due to gross misconduct? Having your contract terminated due to a seemingly unforgivable act can result in added stress and worry. Can this irrevocably hamper your future job chances? Can this put an end to your career?

gross-misconductWondering about your rights if you have been dismissed unfairly? Hire an employment lawyer experienced in defending against false allegations raised by your employer.

For most, the idea of losing your job is equal to one of the worst life events a person can go through. The insecurity of not knowing when you will next get a regular income. The possibility of needing to retrain or the fear of having to prove your worth in an ever-changing job market. It can be a terrifying time.

Read on for everything you need to know about gross misconduct and its impact on your future.

What is gross misconduct?

Most of us have heard of the term gross misconduct or even know someone who has been sacked for this very reason. Nevertheless, what does it really mean?

Effectively, it is an exhaustive list of potential actions or deeds that can leave an employee open to instant dismissal.

There is no one extensive list detailing what can constitute gross misconduct as it can vary from company to company. Anyway, there are some common elements.

Gross misconduct generally:

  • Entails an employee perpetrating a severe or unacceptable action
  • These acts are often highly unethical, immoral, and grave
  • This behaviour will severely harm any trust and destabilise the working relationship between employer and employee
  • It will often injure the integrity or status of the workplace

What constitutes gross misconduct?

As already stated, different actions can fall under the heading of gross misconduct, and the list is not exhaustive.

However, the most common examples can include:

  • Vandalism of workplace property
  • Gross negligence
  • A severe breach of health and safety rules
  • Violence
  • Theft, fraud, and dishonesty
  • Serious insubordination or indecent behaviour
  • Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Bullying, harassment, or intimidation
  • Being involved in bribery, sexism, or racial abuse
  • Criminal acts, either inside or outside of the workplace
  • Impairing or sabotaging company reputation
  • Misuse of confidential information

Sanctions of gross misconduct?

Accusing an employee of gross misconduct should only be done when there is irrefutable evidence, and it is supported by clear company policy.

Though, dismissing an employee for serious actions or lapses in judgement is not always as clear-cut as it may seem.

Sometimes an employer can consider whether there were mitigating circumstances, meaning that the employee acted out of character. This can include reacting badly to a one-off incident, being unduly provoked or experiencing personal problems.

It is expected that an employer uses a consistent approach to dismissal for gross misconduct and to act fairly and reasonably.

A list of actions classed as gross misconduct may have been listed in the company handbook. However, it is rarely that black and white. Sometimes mitigating circumstances need to be considered.

If an employer finds that an employee has acted out of character or has cause to believe that their actions are a one-off, then it could result in lesser sanctions being imposed. This could include a final written warning or something similar.

Summary Dismissal – What is it?

An employer should never move straight to summary or instant dismissal without having completed a full and final investigation first.

Therefore, if you have argued that there were extenuating circumstances, your employer will need to have detailed why they feel it is not applicable in your instance.

Irrespective of how grave or unacceptable an action is, every employee is entitled to a lawful and fair treatment. If you feel that you have not received this, then you may be in a position to claim for unfair dismissal.

Gross Misconduct: Appeals & Disputes

If you can prove that you have not received a fair investigation into your actions, then you may be eligible to sue for unfair dismissal.

This also applies if you can show that you were unaware your action would constitute a sackable offence.

In order to qualify for claiming unfair dismissal, you will need to have been an employee of the company for two or more years.

If you have less than two years of service, you could still qualify to claim for unfair dismissal if you can prove:

    • the discharge was connected to illegal prejudice
    • health and safety
    • whistleblowing
    • trade union activities


Can Gross Misconduct affect my future?

It is rarely easy to answer why anyone has left a secure job role or a reputable company without raising eyebrows. ‘Reason for leaving the last job’ is always a question that comes up on applications and in interviews.

So, you made a grave error of judgement and lost your job through gross misconduct. What do you do now?

1. Get Back On The Horse

You have likely been through a stressful and upsetting time. Nevertheless, this does not have to be the end of the road. Finding a new job and moving on as quickly as possible is the best way to recover after being sacked.

2. Get A Basic Reference

Your ex-employer does not have to give you a reference, but if they do, then it does need to be honest and fair.

You may have avoided requesting one in fear that it may reflect on you badly, but you can always ask for a basic reference. This will simply detail your former job title, salary, and dates of employment. Doing this will mean you have something to give to potential new employers and it will not look like you are hiding something.

3. Be Honest

There is no sense in lying or side-stepping the truth about why you left your previous job. Yes, there is a risk that your application may be overlooked. However, by lying – you can run the risk of being sacked again if your new employer uncovers the truth later.

4. Be Contrite

Being remorseful also ties in with being honest, and these are two precious traits to bring to an interview or application process.

Trying to shirk blame is neither proficient nor appealing. Showing you have learned, and grown from your mistakes is human, professional and can be attractive.

Keep your explanation short, simple, and constructive.

5. Consider A Career Change

Being forced into a new career path could be an excellent time to reassess what you want out of your professional life.

You can seek assistance from the National Careers Service who will be able to offer information about gaining new and relevant qualifications. Besides, there is information about grants and bursaries for adult learners on the UK Government website.

6. Seek Advice

Looking after your finances and future career prospects are essential following a dismissal. However, looking after your wellbeing is vital too.

If you are finding it difficult to cope emotionally, then reach out to your GP, friends and family or a local counselling helpline. There is never any shame in asking for some extra help when you need it.

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Key Takeaway

For most, a job can be an emotional and financial lifeline. Losing your much-needed source of employment can throw your life into turmoil.

If you have been dismissed due to gross misconduct, then reach out to one of our expert legal professionals. Do this to ensure that you have been treated fairly and legally. If not, then an employment solicitor will be able to provide information on how to launch a claim for unfair dismissal.

Also remember, if you accept that you made an error and were in the wrong, this does not spell the end for your career. By following the above tips, you will be back on the road to fruitful employment in no time.

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