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Great Expectations

Earlier this year John Terry lost the England captaincy after his affair with Vanessa Perroncel, the former girlfriend of Wayne Bridge, was made public.

Although the affair did not relate to the workplace, his employers still intervened. An employer may also be able to instigate disciplinary action on the basis that the employee had breached an express contractual provision (e.g. not to bring the employer into disrepute). Depending on the nature and severity of the misbehaviour, an employer may be able to impose a disciplinary sanction including dismissal on the grounds of misconduct outside work.

  • In determining whether disciplinary action is appropriate following disciplinary proceedings, key points to consider may include:
    • The severity of the misbehaviour;
    • Whether the misbehaviour impacts on the employee's ability to do his work;
    • The extent to which the misbehaviour interferes with or damages (or has the potential to interfere with or damage) the employer's reputation or legitimate business interests;
    • Any mitigating circumstances.

    The case of Kiernan v A Wear Limited shows how carefully employers must act. Emma Kiernan posted negative and derogatory comments about her manager on her BEBO website.

    These were reported to the company by a client. The matter was investigated and Ms Kiernan was subsequently dismissed. The court found that A Wear had acted disproportionately in dismissing the claimant and that while its disciplinary procedures were fair, the sanction imposed was not.

    The EAT also held that while Ms Kiernan’s comments deserved strong censure and possible disciplinary action, they did not constitute gross misconduct in the circumstances. Ensuring that your staff follow correct procedure and maintain an acceptable standard in your company can be difficult at the best of times; sometimes, you may find yourself having to take one of your employees through a disciplinary process.

    If you are concerned with this or any other issues give us a call.

    Russell HR Consulting provides expert knowledge in HR solutions, employment law training and HR tools and resources to businesses across the UK.

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