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What is a summary dismissal?

What is a summary dismissal?

Summary dismissal describes when employment has been terminated immediately by the employer (such as at the outcome of a disciplinary hearing). Summary dismissal occurs because of misconduct of the most serious kind (often referred to as ‘gross misconduct’). Where there has been a finding that gross misconduct occurred, it may be appropriate to dismiss for a single act of misconduct.

This blog will answer various questions relating to summary dismissal and provide guidance on next steps:

Do employees always need to be given various warnings before they can be dismissed?

 

No, as said above, it is possible for an employer to terminate employment in circumstances when there has been no previous warnings, if the misconduct is sufficiently serious.

 

What type of misconduct would mean that summary dismissal would be appropriate?

 

It would essentially be situations involving gross misconduct. Where there has been less severe misconduct, a sanction short of dismissal may well be appropriate.

What constitutes gross misconduct may differ depending on the organisation. Employees should be treated fairly and consistently. A way of demonstrating that approach is to have policies and procedures that explain, for example, the potential stages of a disciplinary process, what constitutes gross misconduct, and what more minor forms of misconduct may be.

 

Does gross misconduct always mean dismissal?

 

No, it is for a disciplinary panel to decide what the sanction should be after considering all the evidence at a disciplinary hearing. To find out more about that particular question, read our blog Does gross misconduct always lead to dismissal?

Does a summary dismissal need to take place straightaway?

 

No, a summary dismissal does not mean that the usual disciplinary processes do not apply. It is important that a thorough investigation is carried out and, if the matter is progressed, there is a disciplinary hearing. To find out more information about investigations, read our blog Investigation meetings at work. If you would like to know more about a disciplinary hearing, answers can be found in our blog How to be successful at a disciplinary hearing.

It would be a mistake for an employer to dismiss an employee without following a fair process. Such action may prompt the former employee to bring an Employment Tribunal claim such as unfair dismissal. A potentially more appropriate alternative to dismissal would be to suspend the employee while an investigation is underway.

If an employee is summarily dismissed, is there an entitlement to notice pay?

It is common for notice pay not to be paid in circumstances where there has been a dismissal on the grounds of gross misconduct, however that is something for the particular employer to decide. Whichever approach is adopted, it is important that everyone is treated fairly and consistently. To that end, it would be sensible to provide details of the circumstances when notice pay would (or would not) be paid. This information may be contained in the contract of employment or an employee handbook. To find the answer to the question What is an employee handbook? Read our blog.

If you are an individual who has been summarily dismissed, and you wish to discuss pursuing an Employment Tribunal claim, we can help. We work exclusively in the areas of HR and employment law and can provide a full range of services from providing general guidance to Employment Tribunal representation.

If you are an organisation that finds itself having to navigate through the disciplinary process, we offer a range of services to tackle the issues above, to ensure that the process is as smooth and effective as possible. In addition to our HR services, we also support clients to defend Employment Tribunal claims.

Whether you are an individual or an organisation, if you would like to discuss your needs and the ways in which we can help, call us on 020 3923 8616 or email us on info@plotkinandchandler.com

 

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