How to write a gross misconduct dismissal letter (with template)
Gross misconduct is a serious thing. So any instance of it is going to be stressful.
As an employer, it’s difficult to know how to manage behaviour so serious it qualifies as gross misconduct. And the high level of stress increases the risk of making mistakes — which is especially scary if you’re a small business.
As a startup or small business, you’re unlikely to have previous experience of gross misconduct and seeking help in the form of legal counsel is likely prohibitively expensive. Which means you’ll have to navigate unpleasant and unchartered territory on your own.
So although gross misconduct is the last thing you’d ever want to happen, you need to be prepared for it. A policy and a gross misconduct dismissal letter template will make a stressful situation that bit easier — for you, for the employee(s) in question, and for the rest of your team.
But how do you ensure you do everything by the book so you don’t end up in legal trouble? (Even a small mistake in the dismissal process can mean ending up in front of an employment tribunal.)
And how do you know you’re managing things in the best way possible and treating everyone fairly? (Because there’s not just the legal perspective to consider, but the human one as well.)
Well, that’s where I can help.
I’m one of Charlie’s CIPD-qualified HR advisors, and I help small businesses draft policies, and letters that reflect their company culture and the unique needs of their teams. I also run regular compliance audits for our HR Advice customers to ensure that their processes comply with UK employment law.
I’ve written this blog to take away some of the fear and worry surrounding gross misconduct. Obviously, I’m never going to be able to wave a magic wand, but I can help you to be prepared, confident and compliant, so that you're best placed to deal with it should it ever happen to you.
I’ll also include a gross misconduct dismissal letter template for you to adapt to your business.
What is gross misconduct?
Gross misconduct refers to behaviour at work that’s so unprofessional, unacceptable or improper, it justifies instant dismissal.
Examples of gross misconduct include things like theft, sexual harassment, physical violence, gross negligence or serious insubordination, and you can dismiss someone in your team immediately because of it.
Gross negligence is when someone has shown a serious lack of care towards their duties or people, and serious insubordination could be something like refusing to take orders that keep them or others safe.
As an employer, you’ll be in a stronger position if you have clearly communicated to your team in advance what constitutes gross misconduct. The best way to do this is through your employment contracts and in a company handbook.
What is the process for gross misconduct?
Acas, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, has a code of practice that sets out the expected process that employers must follow in cases of gross misconduct.
If you do not adhere to this process and terminate the employment of someone in your team, they could then claim unfair dismissal.
The process for gross misconduct is:
- Investigate the matter properly
- Inform the employee who’s being investigated in writing
- Give them the opportunity to respond
- Hold a disciplinary meeting with the employee
- Inform them of your decision in writing (this is the gross misconduct dismissal letter, more on this below)
- Let the employee know that they have the right to appeal
Pro-tip: This process gives you a framework to draft up a policy for gross misconduct. If you build your policy around each of these steps then you’re less likely to miss anything out.
If you’re unsure about any aspect of policy writing, then you can talk to me or one of the other HR Advisors at Charlie. We’re here to make things easier for you.
How to write a letter of dismissal for gross misconduct
Once you’ve drafted your gross misconduct policy, you’ll need to create a templated letter of dismissal for gross misconduct.
Having a signed off and ready-to-use dismissal letter template will alleviate some of the pressure in a difficult situation, so it’s a good idea to write it before you need it.
The following information should feature in your letter of dismissal for gross misconduct:
- Date of the disciplinary meeting
- Confirmation of dismissal for misconduct
- Why their behaviour was unacceptable
- Details of any accrued but untaken annual leave (or about any holiday that’s owed back to you)
- Date of their last day of employment
- Date of their final pay
Gross misconduct is something that every employer wishes to avoid, but being prepared for it will make it much easier to deal with if it ever happens.
Having a letter of dismissal for gross misconduct on file means you can act swiftly to resolve an upsetting or unsettling situation, which is vital for your business and the rest of your team.
Sample dismissal letter for gross misconduct
And to make a potentially difficult situation even easier, I’m including a free gross misconduct dismissal letter template with this blog.
You can view the sample dismissal letter for gross misconduct here below, and adapt it so it fits your business. Save it on file, so that it’s ready and waiting should you ever need it.
Anything that’s in brackets in the template can be edited or deleted to make it specific and unique to your business.
Gross misconduct dismissal letter template
Dear [Employee's Name],
Re: Termination of Employment – Gross Misconduct
Following our recent disciplinary hearing on [date], where you were given the opportunity to respond to allegations of gross misconduct, we have thoroughly considered all the evidence presented, including your responses and any mitigating factors.
I regret to inform you that, after careful consideration, it has been decided that your employment with [Your Company Name] will be terminated with immediate effect due to gross misconduct.
The gross misconduct we are referring to is [provide a brief and specific description of the gross misconduct, citing any relevant company policies or procedures that were violated]. This conduct is considered a serious breach of our company policies and standards, and it has been determined that it is not possible to continue your employment relationship.
As per your employment contract, you have the right to appeal this decision. If you wish to appeal, please submit a written appeal to [Name/Title of the person to whom the appeal should be directed] within [number of working days, typically 5-10 working days] of receiving this letter.
Should you choose to appeal, the appeal hearing will be scheduled promptly, and you will be notified of the date, time, and venue. The decision made following the appeal hearing will be final.
You are required to return all company property, keys, access cards, or any other items in your possession belonging to [Your Company Name] immediately.
Your final payslip, which will include any outstanding salary, accrued holiday entitlement up to the termination date, and any statutory entitlements, will be sent to you on the next scheduled payday on [include date].
If you have any questions regarding the termination process or if you require further clarification, please do not hesitate to contact [HR Contact Person] at [HR Contact Email/Phone Number].
We wish you the best in your future endeavours.
If you have any questions about this letter template, just get in touch with Charlie’s HR Advice team. We’re always happy to answer your questions.
How Charlie can help you handle cases of gross misconduct
Even the most prepared business owner is unlikely to want to deal with a case of gross misconduct without support. Because it’s likely you’ll question every single action or decision you make.
But if legal counsel is so expensive, who can you turn to for expert advice?
Well, again, that’s where I can help.
Charlie’s HR Advice is a service created specifically for startups and small businesses. It provides qualified and affordable HR support to small business owners and their HR teams.
As a Charlie HR Advisor, I know the very real difference we can make in stressful situations with serious legal ramifications. We can advise and guide you through a case of gross misconduct, and be your expert sounding board.
With Charlie’s HR Advice, you get:
- Anytime access to a dedicated, CIPD-qualified HR advisor who will help you to manage all kinds of employee issues
- Expert guidance through the dismissal process, so that you feel confident you’re treating everyone fairly and complying with the latest legislation.
A case of gross misconduct is never going to be easy to deal with, but with the right support you’ll be able to lead your team through it and out the other side unscathed.
Talk to us today — because getting you through is what we do.