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Serious Misconduct In The Workplace

All dismissals have an effect on the employee. Being sacked can ruin a person reputation for life. Increasingly employees have less and less resilience to “bounce back” and get another job. Serious misconduct in the workplace can and usually will effect your career.

Serious Misconduct In The Workplace

The above photo shows an employee being shown the door, yes my performance wasn’t up to scratch. However I should not be dismissed for serious misconduct and lose my notice and long service leave. And have my reputation in tatters. My children don’t believe me when I tell them i didn’t take anything from the employer. These are the responses we get when employees ring us up about their unfair dismissal. Serious misconduct in the workplace is more common as employers strive to save every dollar.

Serious Misconduct, what’s it all mean?

Serious Misconduct In The Workplace and how it applies has become more controversial as 2023 progresses. Vaccine issues, booster shots, return to work orders, working from home. Restructures, redundancies, workplaces have changed for ever. What’s it all mean?. We will attempt to unravel serious misconduct, now in 2023 it is the employers dismissal of choice is serious misconduct as its the cheapest. However it is the hardest for employer to prove. They have to make their case. However when monies involved, companies wanting to improve their bottom line, they will take their chances.

Nobody can be a bully. We all know that. However what is bullying? Being dismissed for bullying is common, as it almost on a scale of 1 to 100. Not that hard to argue someone a bully, but hard for that accused employee to disprove. This is easiest road for the employer to dismiss someone for serious misconduct.

The term ‘serious misconduct’ is something that is thrown around by employers way too much

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. This can 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. 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.

Female-employee-is-going-to-be- dismissed
Employer has already made up their mind you are to be dismissed. Their meeting is a scam. Dismissed for swearing is more common than it used to be.

Different types of misconduct

Thus, it is very important for you to know and determine whether your dismissal was likely for ‘serious misconduct’ or for mere misconduct. Serious misconduct is any unethical and unprofessional behavior an employee engages in. Not only can serious misconduct harm one’s relationship with their employer, but it can warrant instant dismissal from their job. This is even if the behavior is their first offense.

Though individual employers may vary somewhat in defining the term, serious misconduct in the workplace generally involves serious actions that threaten the safety, health, and reputation of their colleagues and their employer.

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 (includes threatening behaviour)
– Fraud and related activities
– Intoxication or illicit substance abuse at work. (company policies in relation to this may differ)
– Blatant disrespect for lawful and reasonable orders.

-Sexual harassment (Fairwork Act,2009 recently amended).

-Outside of work hours criminal behaviour. (also non declared or recent criminal records)

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. Serious reputation damage, social media issues, conflict of interest are also reasons cited.

Misconduct enquiries are increasing

The reason for this article, 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.

Dismissed, sacked, terminated, call it what you like. Its terrible in any circumstances. However regroup, take a deep breath, call us, we will work it out together. Time clock fraud is also a increasing issue.

Serious Misconduct In The Workplace

I have reedited the article as of the 15/10/2023. The reason being the large amounts of enquires and dismissals due to the previous Xmas party season and now the opening up of the economy and the returning to work. 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 dismissal for serious misconduct if your not careful.

Stress of the pandemic has take a huge human toll

Also the lockdowns, the stress of the pandemic has take a huge human toll on many, many supervisors, managers are now cranky. They are 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. Why pay for office space when your employees can work from home. However the employer is still stuck with a on going lease, and in turn has to reduce the cost somehow. We have had feedback of employees forced to assemble goods at home, or act as a pick up or delivery point to reduce cost.

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. They will do it.

Be-honest-in-the-investigation-avoid- dismissal
Don’t be naïve, always prepare. Keep good records away from the workplace. Be open and transparent in any workplace investigation. Remember the Employer has to make his claim for serious misconduct, the legal onus under the Fair work Act lies with the employer. If your dismissed there is a strict 21 days to lodge a claim.

Serious Misconduct In The Workplace

Hope you found the article “Serious Misconduct In The Workplace” informative. The article was relatively brief, I wanted to sharply as I could to bring this issue to your attention. So if you get that call, “you have been suspended, stay at home”. “We will let you know what’s going on, can’t tell you at the moment”. “There will be a workplace investigation we’ll be in touch”. You know where all this is going.

Employees turn up with the thinking of day by day, do a good job and go home. There’s that adage “a fair days work for a fair days pay”. Employers plot and plan where they want to be. In some / many cases that doesn’t include you and there’s the door. More and more employers are hiding behind the Zoom. They don’t have to see you in person, look you in the eye, be a human being, a person of decency about it. You may think I’m over reacting, I’m not. I get the calls, I get the stories, the breakdowns, the stress of employees that you can literally measure over the phone.

After hours and non work related criminal behaviour can amount to serious misconduct and justify a termination. You must maintain what is referred to as the “trust and confidence” of your employer. Lying in the workplace also has to consideration when responding.


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.Call us at 1800 333 666 to receive a free consultation. 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, probation, constructive dismissal, redundancy, casual employees.

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