Diced carrots: A lesson in following disciplinary procedures
A recent Unfair Dismissal case in Guernsey has received media attention after a hotel chef was found to have been unfairly dismissed, getting £11,000 compensation despite having been imprisoned for 18 months after biting two police officers called to deal with the chef’s violent behaviour in the hotel grounds and an attack on a work colleague. This is just another example of why it is so crucial to follow disciplinary procedures, regardless of the nature of the misconduct.
Whilst Guernsey is an independent jurisdiction, its law on Unfair Dismissal has similar principles to UK Unfair Dismissal law. The Tribunal accepted that the chef could have been fairly dismissed for his conduct, but criticised the hotel for not carrying out its own investigation into the incident, for not getting the employee’s version of events, and for not informing the employee of his dismissal until nearly 6 months after his arrest. It also appears that the hotel could not show that the decision to dismiss the chef was communicated to him, their copy of the dismissal letter had been lost and the prison it was sent to had no record of receiving it. Dismissals don’t take effect until employees are told, or they have every reason to believe that they have been dismissed.
Whilst cases like this are rare, and it is disappointing that the Guernsey Tribunal did not significantly reduce compensation because of what is called ‘contributory conduct’ in the UK, which could have led to a reduction of around 100% in any notional compensation, it does show the importance of dealing with cases by following formal disciplinary procedures, even in outrageous cases, and good record keeping to document steps taken.