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How does gross misconduct affect future employment?

How does gross misconduct affect future employment
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The majority of people will have heard of gross misconduct. Whether you’ve got a friend or family member who has been dismissed, you’ve heard the term banded around at work or you might have even been dismissed for gross misconduct yourself, it’s unlikely to be a new phrase. But what exactly does it mean and how does gross misconduct affect future employment prospects?

In this article, we’ll explain what it means to be accused of gross misconduct, as well as the impact that having gross misconduct on an employment record could have on future job applications.

Applying for a new job with gross misconduct on your record

If you’ve been dismissed for gross misconduct, you’re likely to feel anxious about your next career move. After all, it’s not something that anyone wants to be accused of, and most people will be worried about disclosing the dismissal or sharing details of the accusation with prospective employers.

However, secure employment is a necessary survival tool for many people, and without a job you may begin to feel that your life is in turmoil. For this reason, it’s likely that you’ll need to get straight back into the saddle and begin applying for new jobs, no matter how daunting it may feel.

So, how do you go about applying for a new job when you’ve got gross misconduct on your record, and how is it likely to impact your future career prospects? Read on to find out.

What is gross misconduct?

Before we discuss how gross misconduct may impact future employment, let’s first take a look at exactly what gross misconduct is.

Gross misconduct covers a wide range of offences that could leave an employee liable to instant dismissal (often referred to as ‘summary dismissal’). Behaviour categorised as gross misconduct will be unethical and unprofessional, failing to meet the usual standards required in the workplace and causing damage to the business.

It can be hard to define exactly what constitutes gross misconduct as there is no legal definition. For this reason, every business should outline clearly what constitutes gross misconduct in the contract of employment or the employee handbook.

What constitutes gross misconduct

What constitutes gross misconduct?

Although it is difficult to create an exhaustive list of every different action that could fall under the category of gross misconduct, there are certain circumstances that the majority of businesses would treat as gross misconduct. However, employees should refer to their employee handbook or contract of employment for a clear definition of what their employer deems to be gross misconduct.

Some of the most common examples of gross misconduct include:

  • Violence while at work
  • Serious health and safety breaches
  • Discrimination
  • Gross negligence
  • Bullying and harassment
  • Theft or fraud
  • Bribery
  • Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol while at work
  • Offering or accepting bribes
  • Criminal acts
  • Misuse of confidential information
  • Vandalism of company property

This list is not exhaustive, and there may be many more actions that an employer may deem to constitute gross misconduct. Ultimately it is up to the employer to decide what constitutes gross misconduct in their workplace, but this should be set out clearly in company policy in order to ensure fairness and consistency.

Accused of gross misconduct – What happens next?

If you have been accused of gross misconduct, you might be wondering what happens next. The exact process that is followed is likely to depend on company policy, but there are some steps that must be followed by law to ensure that the process is both consistent and fair.

An employee can only be accused of gross misconduct where there is irrefutable evidence that the employee has breached company policy. This policy will need to have been accepted by the employee and will need to be clear, without the potential for misinterpretation.

Although a list of behaviours that are classed as gross misconduct should be published in either the contract of employment or the employee handbook, the situation will rarely be that straightforward. Any action taken by the employer must be fair and reasonable, so this means taking into account any mitigating factors that may apply to the situation.

If the employee has acted out of character, it could be that there is an underlying cause for the behaviour that should first be explored before action is taken. For example, if an employee is excessively provoked, reacts poorly to a one-off incident or has extenuating personal circumstances, the employer may consider lesser sanctions such as the issue of a final written warning.

Gross misconduct often results in dismissal. However, the employer should always complete a full investigation before taking steps to dismiss the employee. If the employer decides not to accept the mitigating factors put forward by the employee, they will need to explain why it is not applicable in this situation.

Every employee is lawfully entitled to fair and reasonable treatment from the employer, no matter how serious their actions have been. If the action taken against an employee has not been fair and consistent, they may have a claim for unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal.

How to get another job after dismissal for gross misconduct

How to get another job after dismissal for gross misconduct

If you have been dismissed for gross misconduct, it’s understandable that you may be feeling anxious about applying for a new job. Many people worry that they will be questioned about the circumstances around their gross misconduct during an interview, leading them to delay applying for a new position.

The truth is, most interviews will involve being asked why you decided to leave your last job, so it’s important to be prepared for this. However, this does not mean that you should be disadvantaged in applying for your new role.

Follow the steps below to find your next job after dismissal for gross misconduct.

1.     Don’t put it off

It can be tempting to delay looking for a new job after dismissal for gross misconduct. After all, it has been a stressful time in your life and the thought of seeking a new role can feel like a challenge. However, one of the best ways to recover from dismissal is to find a new job and move on.

2.     Request a basic reference

Employers are not legally obliged to provide a reference for former employees. Nevertheless, if they do decide to provide a reference, the law states that the reference must be fair and honest. This means that if your new employer requests a reference from your former employer, the gross misconduct and dismissal may be detailed within the reference.

The best way around this is to request a basic reference from your former employer. This will simply include your job title, salary and dates of employment. You can then provide this to a potential new employer, without looking like you’ve got something to hide by avoiding providing reference details or risking details of your gross misconduct being discovered.

3.     Honesty is the best policy

Although it is possible to avoid telling your new employer about the reason for which you left your previous job, you then risk being dismissed if your deceit is later discovered. For this reason, it’s best to be honest if you’re asked the reason for which you left your previous job.

Keep your explanation short and simple, and ensure that you are remorseful for the incident. Demonstrating that you have learnt from your mistakes and grown as a professional as a result will be attractive to potential employers, helping you to secure a new job after gross misconduct dismissal.

Do you have to tell future employers that you were fired?

Being dismissed from employment is not a legal matter, so you do not need to disclose it to future employers. However, the risk is that they may find out from someone else later down the line. This could be from a reference requested from your former employer at the recruitment stage or from a third party once you’re already in employment.

If you are asked directly in your interview for the reason for leaving your previous employment, it’s always best to be honest. By being sincere and showing remorse for your actions, you will be demonstrating to the employer that you have learnt from your mistakes – an attractive quality to most employers.

Whilst you could choose to hide the truth from your new employer, you could also risk dismissal if the truth is discovered later down the line, especially if you lied to the hiring manager about your reason for leaving your previous employment during the recruitment process.

Chances of securing new job after gross misconduct dismissal

What are the chances of securing a new job after gross misconduct dismissal?

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the job market. Whilst some employers may look poorly upon those who have been dismissed for gross misconduct, there are also plenty of employers who would look favourably on an applicant who is able to admit their mistakes and demonstrate remorse for their actions, especially if they can explain how they have learnt from the incident.

Your chances of a successful job application after gross dismissal will ultimately depend on a wide range of factors including:

  • Level of competition for the role
  • The quality of the competition
  • The individual details of the gross misconduct
  • How you’ve learnt from your mistakes and changed your behaviour
  • Length of time since the dismissal
  • The hiring policies of the employer

Most employers will accept that everyone makes mistakes. Some of these mistakes will be minor whilst others may be gross. The most important thing is that you learn from your mistakes and seek out solutions to prevent the incident from reoccurring in a new role.

You will find it more challenging to secure a new position if you do not demonstrate remorse for the incident and cannot explain how you will prevent a reoccurrence. This could be more concerning for the hiring manager, who will be looking to protect their own business from any issues.

Related questions

Is instant dismissal final?

The term ‘instant dismissal’ might sound very final. However, this isn’t always the case. Before an employee can be dismissed, a full investigation needs to be undertaken. This should include holding a disciplinary hearing and considering any mitigating factors that may have influenced the actions. If this process isn’t followed, the employee may have a claim for unfair dismissal.

Will being fired ruin my career?

Being dismissed for gross misconduct will not usually result in the end of your career. It is the reasons behind that gross misconduct that needs to be explored. For example, if the gross misconduct resulted in a criminal record, you may find that you cannot work in certain fields in the future. However, in most cases, job seekers are able to secure new employment quickly after dismissal for gross misconduct, allowing them to move on from the incident and progress their careers.

In summary

Secure employment is more than just a luxury to most people: it’s a lifeline, both emotionally and financially. If you lose that employment due to gross conduct dismissal, you may feel like your life is in turmoil. Securing a new job is one of the best ways to recover after being dismissed, but a common concern is how a record of gross misconduct will affect future employment.

Most employers understand that everyone makes mistakes. Whilst many mistakes are minor, sometimes they may be gross, leading to dismissal. It’s important to remember that this is not the end of your career: it’s simply a moment for learning. The most important thing is what comes next.

Spend time learning from your mistakes and putting measures in place to prevent a reoccurrence in your next employment. By learning about yourself, you can use the knowledge to improve yourself both personally and professionally, improving your employability.

When you do begin applying for new jobs, how you tell your story will be the key. It’s important to be honest, whilst demonstrating your remorse. If you can explain how you’ve learnt from the incident and how you’ve grown, this will give you a far better chance of success in your application.

‘How does gross misconduct affect future employment’ is a common concern, but there’s often no need to worry. This article has explained how you can go about securing your next role after gross misconduct dismissal, by being honest and sincere and learning from your mistakes.

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