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Serious Misconduct In The Workplace

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serious misconduct in the workplace


The term ‘serious misconduct’ is something that is thrown around by employers way too much in the employment sphere.



You may have heard it during a termination or when your employer is threatening your employment. ‘Serious misconduct’ is actually a legal term that will allow for employers to terminate /dismiss you on that basis and bar you from receiving your normal entitlements when you exit your employment. For example, when you are correctly dismissed for serious misconduct, you will be stripped from your entitlements to annual leave, long service leave, notice period and in the case a company is going through a downsizing or restricting, any redundancy pay you might have been owed but for the alleged serious misconduct.

However, since employers know that they can significantly reduce the costs of having to terminate your employment by saying that it was for ‘serious misconduct’, they may wrongfully do this and unlawfully strip you of your rightful entitlements. Employers, especially in tough periods and situations, will rely on this method to drive their wages down and reduce payroll to save them some money.

Thus, it is very important for you to know and determine whether your dismissal was likely for ‘serious misconduct’ or for mere misconduct.


Now you understand there is a crucial difference. The Fair Work Commission decisions are very clear on the very high bar employers must meet to satisfy ‘serious misconduct’ of an employee. Some examples are provided, but are not limited to these:

– Theft
– Physical or verbal assault
– Fraud
– Intoxication or illicit substance abuse at work
– Blatant disrespect for lawful and reasonable orders.

This is definitely not an exhaustive list but it could give you some flavor on whether your misconduct is more similar to a regular mishap in the workplace or something more onerous against the employer.

The reason for this blog, is the extraordinary amount of employees who now search this word / phase on our advertising campaigns. In these tough economic times times some employers will resort to whatever it takes to reducing cost, avoiding redundancy etc as already mentioned. Dismissal for any reason is a career impediment, or an inhibitor to getting another job, this need to be corrected.

serious misconduct

Serious Misconduct In The Workplace

I have reedited the article as of the 21/12/2021, the reason being the large amounts of enquires and dismissals due to the Xmas party season, this year it seems particularly high. My theory is after the various states getting out of lock down, employees actually having to go back to work, that employees are going nuts, wild, whatever, glad to be out there. Nothing wrong with that, I’m not the fun police. But established codes of conduct still apply, drunkenness’, sexual harassment, offensive behaviour etc, will lead to termination for serious misconduct if your not careful.

Also the lockdowns, the stress of the pandemic has take a huge human toll on many, many supervisors, mangers are now cranky, lacking a sense of humor, so in some cases behavioral issues, jokes, innuendo, was overlooked in the past is no longer tolerated. so be careful.

Also after some near two years lockdown, companies, people are not the same , some are better, some worse. Companies are watching their expenses like never before. So if a company can dismiss you for serious misconduct, notice does not have to be paid, long service leave is not paid, bonus in many cases do not apply or forfeited.

We are A Whole New Approach P/L, we are not lawyers, but leading workplace advisors. 30 years experience, leaders in workplace commentary and justice for employees, we are here for you

Hope you found the article “Serious Misconduct In The Workplace” informative. Call us at 1800 333 666 to receive a free consultation on whether we think your dismissal or pending dismissal may not have been or will be for ‘serious misconduct’. Explore your options, our advice is prompt, honest, and we will not mislead you. We work in all states, NSW, Qld, Victoria, Tas, SA, WA, NT, All Fair work Commission matters, including abandonment of employment issues, being falsely accused of sexual harassment


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