Gross Misconduct

Gross Misconduct & Dismissal in Ireland

Gross Misconduct & Dismissal in Ireland

Gross misconduct refers to an employee’s actions or behaviours that are so severe that they warrant immediate dismissal without notice or pay in lieu of notice. These actions must be so serious that they essentially destroy the trust and confidence between the employer and the employee, making it impossible for the employment relationship to continue.

Examples of Gross Misconduct

Some common examples of gross misconduct include:

  1. Theft, fraud, or dishonesty
  2. Physical violence or threats
  3. Harassment or bullying
  4. Intoxication while on duty
  5. Breach of confidentiality
  6. Falsifying records or documents
  7. Serious insubordination

It is important to note that this list is not exhaustive and that other actions and acts may be serious misconduct in some circumstances.  

Consequences of Gross Misconduct

If an employee is found to have committed serious misconduct, the employee may be terminated immediately, sometimes referred to as summary termination. This can have serious consequences for workers, including loss of income and damage to their professional reputation.  

The Dismissal Process

Even in cases of gross misconduct, employers must follow a fair and transparent process before dismissing an employee. This process typically involves three key steps:

Investigating the Allegations

Employers must conduct thorough investigations into allegations of serious misconduct. This may include interviewing employees, witnesses, gathering relevant evidence, etc. Employees should be informed of allegations against them and allowed to comment. 

Disciplinary Hearing

If the investigation suggests that there may be grounds for dismissal, a disciplinary hearing should be held. At this hearing, the employee should be allowed to present their side of the story, ask questions, and present any evidence or witnesses in their defence.

Outcome and Appeals

After a disciplinary hearing, the employer must decide whether to fire the employee or impose lesser sanctions, such as a written warning. Employees must be informed of decisions and allowed to appeal if they disagree with the results. 

Unfair Dismissal Claims

Employees who believe they have been unfairly dismissed due to gross misconduct may file an unfair dismissal claim with the Workplace Relations Commission.

Grounds for Unfair Dismissal

An unfair dismissal claim may be based on several grounds, such as:

  1. The employer failed to follow a fair dismissal process
  2. The employee was dismissed for reasons unrelated to gross misconduct
  3. The employee was treated less favourably than others in similar situations

Filing an Unfair Dismissal Claim

To file an unfair dismissal, an employee must complete a Labor Relations Complaint Form within six months of the dismissal. In certain circumstances, this period may be extended by him to 12 months. The Workplace Relations Commission will then investigate the allegations and may order a hearing to determine the lawsuit’s merits. 

Potential Remedies

If the Workplace Relations Commission finds that an employee has been unfairly dismissed, they may order one or more of the following remedies:

  1. Reinstatement of the employee to their former position
  2. Re-engagement of the employee in a different position
  3. Compensation, which may be up to two years’ salary

Tips for Employers

To minimise the risk of wrongful termination lawsuits and ensure a fair trial when dealing with serious misconduct, employers should consider the following:  

Creating a Clear Company Policy

Employers should have a clear and accessible policy outlining what constitutes gross misconduct and the potential consequences. This policy should be regularly reviewed and updated as necessary.

Documenting Incidents

Employers should document any incidents of gross misconduct, including the details of the allegations, the investigation, and the disciplinary process. This documentation can be crucial in defending against any unfair dismissal claims.

Training and Communication

Employers should provide regular training and communication to employees regarding company policies, expectations, and the consequences of gross misconduct. This can help prevent incidents and ensure that employees are aware of the potential consequences of their actions.


What is considered gross misconduct in Ireland?

Gross misconduct is an employee’s actions or behaviours so severe that they warrant immediate dismissal without notice or pay in lieu of notice. Examples include theft, fraud, physical violence, harassment, and serious insubordination.

What is the process for dismissing an employee for gross misconduct?

Employers must follow a fair and transparent process for investigating allegations, holding disciplinary hearings, and allowing employees to challenge the results. 

How can an employee file an unfair dismissal claim?

Employees may file an unfair dismissal complaint with the Workplace Relations Commission within six months of termination by completing the Workplace Relations Complaint Form.  

What remedies are available for employees who have been unfairly dismissed?

If an employee is found to have been unfairly dismissed, the Workplace Relations Commission can order reinstatement, reinstatement, or compensation of up to two years’ salary.  

What can employers do to minimise the risk of unfair dismissal claims?

Employers should establish clear company policies, document incidents, and regularly train and inform employees about the prospects and consequences of serious misconduct.  

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