What is Serious Misconduct?

serious misconduct

One of your primary responsibilities as an employee is to showcase exemplary stellar qualities that will not only keep you in your job but also guarantee your employer’s satisfaction. When you act unruly at the workplace, you might be guilty of serious misconduct and face possible dismissal.

Serious misconduct in the workplace refers to deliberate actions that can get your employment contract terminated. It is your onus as an employee to understand what constitutes serious misconduct at the workplace and how you can ensure you are not getting the pink slip in the future.

Are you familiar with the concept of serious misconduct in a professional setting? Have you been accused of engaging in such behaviour at your workplace? Were you terminated from your job on account of serious misconduct? Continue reading to understand the nature of serious misconduct and the possibility that your employer may have dismissed you unjustly.

If you think you have been unfairly dismissed at work, you can reach out to professional work advisors like A Whole New Approach to discuss your option. Still sceptical about this topic, keep reading to understand serious misconduct within the Australian workplace.

What is serious misconduct in the workplace?

According to the Fair Work Commission, serious misconduct is deliberate actions by an employee that can affect the continuity of their employment. This means that serious misconduct can get an employee in trouble with the employer and possible dismissal. These actions might also include acts that will ruin the reputation of an employer, pose a health risk or affect the viability of the business. What counts as serious misconduct varies from organisation to organisation, depending on the sector and the type of the business.

Serious misconduct in the workplace is irreparable actions that make it impossible for employee relationships to strive. It destroys the trust and confidence that guarantees a healthy work environment.

Misconduct at the workplace can be gross or general. The seriousness of the misconduct hints at the irreparable damages it does to either the employer or coworkers. If an employee comes late regularly to work, it is general misconduct but when such an employee sexually harasses a female colleague, it is termed serious misconduct.

Serious misconduct is a plausible reason for termination of employment. While minor misconduct can be rectified with a warning, grave misconduct might lead to a dismissal. While the employee is protected from being arbitrarily terminated from work without valid reasons, serious misconduct such as posing a threat to the health and safety of other workers, theft, fraud, or sexual harassment is some examples of serious misconduct within the job sphere.

If an employer dismisses an employee for serious misconduct, the employee is summarily dismissed and will receive no notice pay. However, some employers may use serious misconduct as an excuse to dismiss their employees without paying out notice. It is therefore important for employees to note examples of actions that can constitute serious misconduct.

what is serious misconduct

Some examples of serious misconduct at work include:

  • Causing deliberate damage to the company property or other acts of vandalism in the workplace.
  • Fraud or embezzlement or theft.
  • Inappropriate conduct at the workplace and breaching confidentiality (trade secrets).
  • Breaches of Safety. Example: Removing or not using machinery guards, constantly refusing to wear protective equipment while working on a hazard-prone site.
  • Intoxication at the workplace or coming to the office drunk. This is worse if such a drunken state prevents you from performing well on your task. Buying or selling drugs on the employer’s premises.
  • Verbal or physical assault. This includes making threats or acting violently towards your coworkers.
  • Bullying or harassment due to race, sex, religion, or ethnicity.
  • Intimidation of anyone in the workplace
  • Acts of insubordination to top management or your employer.
  • Unauthorized absenteeism from work.
  • Arriving at the workplace under the influence of alcohol or a narcotic substance.
  • Being consistently late to the workplace.
  • Refusing to collaborate with your colleagues.
  • Skipping required meetings and training.
  • Using inappropriate language while in the workplace.

For Dismissal to be considered fair:

  • The employer has to genuinely believe that the employee had committed the misconduct.
  • The employer must show that they had reasonable grounds for believing this.
  • Before concluding, the employer must show they have carried out a reasonable investigation.
  • The employer must have given the employee a chance to respond to the allegation in the case of an accusation.

Can serious misconduct constitute a dismissal?

Even though your employer can summarily dismiss you for a serious misconduct case, it is still possible that such dismissal will be considered harsh, unfair, and unreasonable due to certain reasons. Serious misconduct can be an intentional excuse by employers to reduce their payroll and increase their earnings. This calls for a burden of proof by employees to determine if truly their dismissal was fair and justifiable.

If the employee has completed at least the minimum employment period and the reason for their termination is not valid, the employee may be eligible to pursue an Unfair Dismissal application in the Fair Work Commission. The minimum employment period is 6 months of continuous service at a particular time, for non-small business employers.

What to do when faced with a serious misconduct case at work?

  • Have your proof ready: A serious misconduct case might get you dismissed. If you feel it is an allegation, then you should have your evidence and witnesses ready. Your employer may demand that you prove your innocence in a case of gross misconduct.
  • Understand what serious misconduct means: If you can determine what constitutes gross misconduct, you can tell when your employer is simply seeking to kick you out without a notice to pay. Research extensively on a serious mission in the workplace and consider asking questions about unfair dismissal.
  • Talk to your employer: You may need to speak to the Human Resource Department or your employer when faced with a case of serious misconduct. Try to understand whether your employee handbook covers such grounds and how you should act in such a situation.
  • Remain professional: If you are certain, you have been falsely accused, then you should remember to stay calm and remain professional. Attacking your accuser or underperforming at your task might complicate your situation and make it easier for your employer to terminate your employment.
  • Seek Help: defending a case of serious misconduct may be tricky especially if you have been dismissed. Consider speaking to a professional workplace advisor who can help you gauge your options and decide whether you have to file an unfair dismissal case.

Wrapping up

Being alleged of having committed serious misconduct at the workplace can be a difficult phase for employees. Serious misconduct ranges from acts like theft, insubordination, or putting your coworkers at risk. Whatever the case, seeking professional help may come in handy especially if your employment contract has been terminated.

Even though your employer can arbitrarily dismiss you for serious misconduct. There is a need to prove that such dismissal was fair, reasonable, and right. This is tricky for most employees as they are unable to produce this proof. However, professional help at this point can aid you to assess your eligibility and prepare proof for unfair dismissal.

If you have currently been dismissed for alleged serious misconduct at the workplace, and believe your employer was wrong, the onus lies on you to prove that such dismissal is unfair. All Whole New approach can help you assess the eligibility of your case for unfair dismissal and get you compensation from your employer. Book a free confidential consultation session with us today on 1300 766 700 to discuss your options and gain your professional reputation back. We work in all states, NSW, Qld, Victoria, Tas, SA, WA, and NT.