Dealing with Serious Misconduct Outside of Work

On occasion employers are faced with serious staff misconduct situations which have occurred outside of work. It may be a drink driving offense or an alleged assault that’s taken place over the weekend. Your first reaction may be immediate dismissal but don’t rush into action too quickly. Consider the following points to ensure the action you do take is appropriate for the situation;

  • Criminal conduct of an employee outside of work doesn’t automatically lead to their dismissal
    The act itself isn’t necessarily grounds to take disciplinary action. A genuine connection between their conduct and their employment must be
    made before disciplinary action is taken
  • Consider whether or not there is significant reputational risk to the company should the individual remain employed   
    If an employee has been arrested and charged with a criminal offence for conduct outside work, it won’t necessarily cause damage to the
    company’s reputation. Bringing the company’s name into disrepute is more likely if the individual is employed in a position of trust, high exposure to the public and/or has responsibility for vulnerable groups within society
  • Investigate the circumstances relating to conduct outside work as fully as possible before making any decision to take disciplinary action  
    Employers aren’t not expected to know the outcome of criminal proceedings before taking disciplinary action, but they are expected to take
    reasonable steps to investigate the facts relating to the misconduct before deciding whether or not to hold a disciplinary hearing. Contact the police if necessary to understand exactly what the charges are 
  • Being held in custody pending criminal proceedings doesn’t mean automatic dismissal    
    Although it may be difficult to carry out a full investigation if the employee is unavailable due to imprisonment pending criminal proceedings,
    an appropriate investigation should be carried out to understand the facts before making a decision on how best to proceed
  • Make sure your disciplinary policy covers misconduct outside work    
    This sets expectations for staff if they understand that misconduct outwith their work could still lead to potential dismissal 
  • Ensure managers are familiar with policies and procedures and are comfortable dealing with these situations and the best practice guidelines they should follow    
    It’s easy to react quickly in these circumstances without thinking the situation through fully. Don’t panic, take time to follow procedures and
    get help if you’re unsure of the steps you should take
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The Do's and Don'ts of Office Banter

Keep your conversations at work above board by clicking on the attached link to read Ashlie Turner's recently published article, The Do's and Don'ts of Office Banter. Also find top tips from Employment Law expert, Chris Leitch, at Tods Murray LLP.

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Modest Pay Awards Predicted for Year Ahead

A recent survey of private sector employers predicts modest salary increases for staff over the next 12 months. The 315 employers who took part in the survey found the median predicted pay rise to be 2% with no employers planning to cut pay and 15.5% predicting a nil increase.

Source: XpertHR 

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Default retirement age proposals: 5 things employers need to know

The abolition of the default retirement age, which the Government has confirmed is going ahead, will have a huge impact on how employers operate their businesses. Although the default retirement age won't be completely abolished until 1 October 2011, transitional arrangements from 6 April 2011 mean that employers don't have much time to get to grips with the proposals.

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To tweet or Not to Tweet? Derogatory Remarks by Former Employees

What can an employer do if a former employee posts a derogatory comment about it on a social networking site?

If a potentially defamatory or otherwise unlawful statement has been posted by a former employee, you should submit an electronic report and/or a formal letter of demand to the host site requesting the immediate removal of the material.

In addition, write to the former employee demanding removal of the content and putting the individual on notice of the causes of action that it has against him or her. These could include damages for breach of contract, if the former employee’s contract of employment and/or any compromise agreement contain post-termination restrictions, such as clauses prohibiting the disclosure of confidential information.

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