Have you been summarily dismissed by your employer without prior notice or warning? An employer can usually only complete a summary dismissal if it was due to serious misconduct on your part.
What behaviour constitutes serious misconduct?
- Any behaviour demonstrated by the employee that is deliberate and wilful and is inconsistent with continuing with the contract of employment;
- The conduct displayed by the employee causes serious and imminent risk to the health and safety of another person or the reputation, viability and profitability of the person’s business;
- If the employee engages in theft, fraud or assault during the duration of their employment;
- The employee being intoxicated at work; and
- An employee refusing to carry out a lawful and reasonable instruction that is consistent with the employee’s contract of employment.
What should the employer do?
Before summarily dismissing an employee, an employer should follow a process to ensure that any dismissal was fair and just to the employee.
- An employer should warn the employee about a termination meeting;
- The employer should explain to the employee about why they are having the meeting;
- The employer should inform the employee that they should have a representative with them at the meeting;
- A fair amount of time should be given to the employee so they can prepare themselves for the meeting;
- A full investigation should be conducted by the employer including obtaining witnesses and witness statements;
- The employer should show the employee the evidence against him/her and give them the opportunity to explain it.
- The employer should give the employee ample time to provide an explanation for the conduct.
What if I was unfairly dismissed?
For an employer to dismiss an employee, they must have a valid reason and the eventual dismissal must not be ‘harsh, unjust or unreasonable’.
If the employer does not follow the procedure described above they are opening themselves up to an unfair dismissal claim, where the dismissal can be overturned.
If you have been summarily dismissed and the dismissal was harsh, unjust or unreasonable then contact an employment lawyer as soon as possible as strict limitation periods apply to employment law claims.