Most of us think that we know our work colleagues well albeit in a professional capacity but what happens if you are faced with a situation in your business where one of your staff declares that they have been convicted of committing a criminal offense outside of work…And what do you do about it?

Dealing with this type of issue is not easy and must be handled carefully to avoid repercussions later down the line. Staff can be convicted with committing a criminal offense for a variety of reasons. If you are faced with this situation, you will need to observe the following:

1. Proceed with caution – Where an employee has committed an offence outside work, they cannot be automatically (fairly) dismissed even if they have been remanded in custody or convicted of an offence. If a dismissal for out-of-work conduct is to be fair, there must be a genuine connection between the employee’s offence and their employment such as:

  • The offence makes the employee unsuitable to keep their role.  For example, they were convicted of theft and cash handling is part of their role.
  • The offence causes the employer to lose trust and confidence in the employee.  For example, a manager who is convicted of an offense relating to dishonesty.
  • The offence brings the Company’s name into ill repute.  For example, the conviction is reported in the press and the employee’s role brings them into regular contact with the Company’s customers or clients.

2. Look at alternatives to dismissal – where possible, review other options rather than automatically proceeding to dismissal.  For example, where a driver has been convicted of a drink driving offense and has lost their license, it may be possible to transfer them to another role that does not involve driving.

3. Always investigate thoroughly – consider all relevant circumstances before deciding whether or not to dismiss.  A charge alone will not on its own give grounds for dismissal unless the Company has genuine belief that the employee is guilty following its own internal investigation.

4. Seek professional advice – Always proceed with caution when contemplating a dismissal and seek advice from an HR professional or employment lawyer when in doubt – it could save you considerable time, money and disruption to your business.

For more information visit our disciplinary grievances services page.

By Bruce Ramshaw

Principal Consultant


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