Is being dishonest classified as serious misconduct?

By Jeff Salton on June 26th, 2017

Many successful working relationships are built on trust. But what happens when that trust is broken – when a worker engages in dishonest behaviour?

Dishonesty can become cause for concern when these activities have potential to damage the reputation of the company, especially if the worker won’t admit to them or cease his activities.

As an employer, would you consider dishonesty as serious misconduct? Is there a law that states dishonesty as grounds for dismissal for serious misconduct?

Employment Law Practical Handbook Editor-in-Chief Charles Power says a definition of ‘serious misconduct’ is included in regulation 1.07 of the Fair Work Regulations 2009. This definition includes conduct that causes serious and imminent risk to the reputation of an employer’s business, as well as wilful or deliberate behaviour by an employee that is inconsistent with the continuation of the employment contract.

Whether certain conduct will constitute serious misconduct will depend on the circumstances. Essentially, you need to be satisfied that the employee’s conduct would make it unreasonable to keep them employed in the role, he says.

Charles believes that if you determine that an employee is guilty of serious misconduct, you should still give them a chance to respond to any allegations before terminating their employment.

He warns to be careful not to give into the temptation to simply dismiss them (even though sometimes dismissal is the most reasonable action to take when considering the best interests of your company and your workers!)

Not too late

As an employer or manager of staff, one of your most important tasks is to encourage and maintain a productive, positive and healthy working environment – you need to set clear expectations for the performance and behaviour of your workers.

You also need to be able to identify behaviour that is in breach of your workplace standards and to respond swiftly to inappropriate behaviour and misconduct.

But it’s important you understand how to avoid any legal repercussions should you choose to go down this path.

This means having policies and procedures in place that outline:

  • how you expect employees to behave;
  • how to conduct an investigation into employee misconduct; and
  • the disciplinary steps you’ll take if an employee breaches workplace standards.

To begin with, you need to consider developing and implementing management procedures for dealing with misconduct.

You also need to outline clearly — in writing — what your company expects from its employees in terms of performance, behaviour and appropriate conduct.

Charles has developed an important resource that deals specifically with employee misconduct. Managing Misconduct is a 78–page eBook that explains exactly what behaviour constitutes misconduct and provides clear guidelines on how you should effectively respond. You’ll find out:

  • 10 essential items to include in your workplace policies
  • 6 things to consider before conducting an investigation into misconduct
  • A 7–step guide to conducting an investigation
  • 3 potential alternatives to dismissing an employee for misconduct
  • How to minimise your exposure to legal risk when dismissing an employee
  • How to recognise serious misconduct and implement summary dismissal

Get your copy today so that you are able to respond to employee misconduct quickly, confidently and effectively — while minimising any legal risk.

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