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Frequently Asked Questions

EH SolicitorsFrequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions


What is gross misconduct?

Misconduct so serious which justifies the dismissal of an employee without notice. What constitutes gross misconduct will depend on the circumstances of the employer and the work the employee is carrying out. Examples of gross misconduct include theft, fraud, physical violence, serious negligence and serious breach of health and safety regulations. Examples are usually given in a company handbook or can be found in an organisation’s disciplinary rules.

Can you instantly dismiss an employee when you have just seen them commit an act of gross misconduct?

You will need to follow your disciplinary procedure (which should follow the ACAS Code of Practice as a minimum) to avoid the dismissal being unfair. If the employee has under one year of service (or under two years of service if they were employed on or after 6 April 2012), you can dismiss without reason on notice, although do be aware of any potential discrimination claims. If you dismiss without notice, you could face a breach of contract claim. Always take legal advice before dismissing an employee.

What is a settlement agreement?

A settlement agreement, previously known as a compromise agreement, is a written agreement between an employee and employer. The purpose of the agreement is to prevent an employee bringing a claim against the employer. In return, the employer will provide a benefit to the employee which is usually financial but it can also be a reference or the provision of a company car for example. In order for a settlement agreement to be legally binding, the employee must obtain legal advice on the effect of the agreement and in particular, on their ability to bring claims against their employer.

Can you discipline an employee for taking too many sick days?

Before you consider this, talk to the employee to find out more. You should be completing return to work forms after every period of absence which may give you some information. If you later find out the absence is related to disability, you may face a claim under the Equality Act 2010 if you act before doing this. Is there a reason why the employee does not want to come to work? Maybe there is a bullying and harassment issue which, if dealt with, will reduce absence levels. If after investigation the absence appears to be an issue of misconduct, follow your disciplinary process.

None of my employees have a contract of employment and so I am planning on downloading a contract off the internet and getting them to sign it, will this be okay?

First, all employees should receive a written statement setting out the basic terms of employment within 2 months of their start date. If they do not receive this, they could potentially make a claim against their employer. Second, the contracts should be tailored to your business. Template documents will be generic and they could do more harm than good. It could be cheaper to buy a template document but you should always seek legal advice on contracts as this could save you time and money in the future.

Call us now on 0845 838 1527 to discuss your employment law query.