February 22, 2016

Is there really such a thing as ‘fairness’ in the workplace

Questioning what is reasonable behaviour in the workplace can work both ways. From the employers to the employee’s perspective, one of the worst case scenarios most businesses have to face is how to deal with gross misconduct.  This covers a multitude of sins when either party doesn’t play by the rules: dismissal of health and safety procedures, theft, non-compliance, breaches in confidentiality, sexual harassment and other behaviour attributed occurrences.  Perhaps one could say that staff who are fair in the workplace deserve fair treatment, even if any incident arises that conflicts negatively with their contract of employment or employee handbook. So diligent human resource management is very much needed to keep every aspect of the business’s workings in line, in terms of health and safety, and employment law.


In most cases the employee will recognise and understand whether they are in the wrong or not in a given situation because they will have (or have not, in the following instance) been issued with the relevant documentation upon employment.  This would clearly state what they can and cannot do once they become an employee etc.  Here we have a case where the employee was the victim of gross misconduct, by her employer.  A 29-year-old bar manager working and living in Hungerford, was sacked after unexpectedly falling pregnant and was also taunted in front of customers by her boss.  Part of a couple, she lived and managed the bar with her partner but once she became pregnant they were told to move out and she suffered instant dismissal.  The gross misconduct on side of the employer is more than evident, as per the treatment she received, the wrongful dismissal and the fact that the company didn’t provide her with particulars of employment regarding a contract.  She therefore won the case and was awarded £8,280 for wrongful and discriminatory dismissal as well as damage to her emotional state, plus compensation, bringing the total awarded to £17,239.20.


When the employee has been unjust in his/her actions towards the company they work for and it has put the business, or the lives of people in the business in danger somehow, then this is gross misconduct and warrants fair dismissal.  For example, if we take a member of staff who works in a factory and the employee is fully aware that he/she is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, whilst still operating machinery, they put not only themselves but others at risk of danger whilst disrupting the business’s day to day running.  This is a very clear example of gross misconduct.  In this instance, one could also say that because the employee was not of right mind to have been working with the company when the incident occurred, that the line manager is also guilty of misconduct because they weren’t aware of any clear changes in the employee’s appearance, behaviour or even body odour.  Any disciplinary policies noted throughout an employee handbook should indicate examples, so that staff are clear about what is, and what is not acceptable in the workplace.



It’s the little things that make a difference, and good quality HR services  help to protect your business and your employees from these type of happenings by making sure that the little things are covered.   We make sure that if negligence takes place on either side then it can be dealt with in the best way possible.

HR Heroes