Procedural errors can lead to an unfair dismissal

legal updates

This case concerned two employees found to be guilty of gross misconduct.

Read our disclaimer keyboard_arrow_down

This website content is intended as a general guide to law as it applies to the motor trade. Lawgistics has taken every effort to ensure that the contents are as accurate and up to date as at the date of first publication.

The laws and opinions expressed within this website may be varied as the law develops. As such we cannot accept liability for or the consequence of, any change of law, or official guidelines since publication or any misuse of the information provided.

The opinions in this website are based upon the experience of the authors and it must be recognised that only the courts and recognised tribunals can interpret the law with authority.

Examples given within the website are based on the experience of the authors and centre upon issues that commonly give rise to disputes. Each situation in practice will be different and may comprise several points commented upon.

If you have any doubt about the correct legal position you should seek further legal advice from Lawgistics or a suitably qualified solicitor. We cannot accept liability for your failure to take professional advice where it should reasonably be sought by a prudent person.

All characters are fictitious and should not be taken as referring to any person living or dead.

Use of this website shall be considered acceptance of the terms of the disclaimer presented above.

A recent Court of Appeal decision has reaffirmed that procedural errors made during a dismissal process can amount to an automatically unfair dismissal. 

The case in question concerned two employees found to be guilty of gross misconduct and thus summarily dismissed from employment. As per the procedures set out in the ACAS guidelines a full and through investigation must be carried out before a dismissal of this nature is made. The Employer must hold a genuine belief that the employee is guilty and should not act upon a mere suspicion. This should be backed up by the aforementioned investigation and should be reasonable resolution in the circumstances.

Even if the employee is proven to be guilty of the misconduct, if there are procedural errors, they may still be successful in their unfair dismissal claim. Unsustainable or inconclusive finding, failing to look at all external factors that may influence or affect the actions of the employee, and uncollobrative evidence will all be deemed to show an inadequate investigation. As such the investigation will be deemed not to have given the employer a genuine belief of guilt and thus the dismissal will have been made unfairly.

Further in relation to automatic suspensions, the Court of Appeal considered that automatic suspensions in these cases can sometimes be deemed a knee jerk reaction. Suspension should only be used when there is a risk of the investigation being jeopardised, or that the employee poses threat of reoffending. Further if they are deemed a risk to other members of staff then this would also justify a suspension. Other than this a suspension might be deemed a pre determined act of guilt. 

The key here is to make sure that in serious circumstances, no knee jerk reaction or emotional feelings lead an investigation. Make sure that all procedural steps are undertaken, especially in regards to suspension and investigation. 

ECSC Group plcMore Secure

On average 55 vulnerabilities are identified daily.

What can I do?

Review your organisations priorities and ask ‘can we afford a breach?’. What do I do during an incident? Who do I involve? When do I involve the ICO?

If you’re unable to answers these questions, you need help from the experts.

Dennis ChapmanIn remembrance of Dennis Chapman 1951 -2015Read More by this author

Related Legal Updates

Update on Rights to Flexible Working Requests

Employers will remain entitled to turn down a request pointing to reasonable grounds as a basis for refusal.

Three new employment laws for 2024

The Carers Leave Act, The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act and The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act.

Parents and Carers: New Protections at Work

Parents and carers will benefit from the following new employment protections that received royal assent in May 2023.

April 2023 Pay Rate Increases

The new financial year is upon us, with new rates abound.

Day One Dismissal

While it may be entirely appropriate to dismiss an employee who has recently commenced employment with you or even circumvent any kind of dismissal procedure, it is always best to exercise caution.

Employment tribunal awards

A tribunal can, at their discretion, award an uplift of 25% for failure to follow the Acas procedure.

ChatGPT? For now, at least you can chat with your legal advisor

Seek advice from a legal expert or HR consultant who has experience in employment law and discrimination issues.

Get in touch

Complete the form to get in touch or via our details below:

01480 455500

Vinpenta House
High Causeway

By submitting this quote you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy & Cookies Policy.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.