Conduct outside of work

The recent situation involving the Manchester United footballer, Mason Greenwood, has highlighted the difficulties employers face when dealing with an employee’s conduct outside of the workplace.

The footballer had faced criminal charges of attempted rape and assault after a recording/video of his interaction with his girlfriend was posted on social media. It was taken down shortly afterwards but not before a large number of the public and media had heard it. The police investigation and charges were eventually dropped but, given the material posted on social media, and the public feeling towards it, there was still an internal investigation to conduct. That investigation concluded that he had not committed the alleged offences, but that both parties had agreed that he would leave the club.

Had Manchester United found that he had committed an offence though, would they have been entitled to dismiss him? The conduct in question was in his own home and had nothing to do with football. The answer is potentially, yes. There may have been grounds to have dismissed him if they had been able to show that his conduct had completely broken their trust or caused damage to the employer’s reputation. Provided they followed a fair procedure in reaching those conclusions then dismissal would likely have been seen to be fair and reasonable in the circumstances.

But what should you do if one of your employees is facing criminal charges for their actions outside of work?

  • Consider whether the alleged conduct is serious enough to justify disciplinary action and has a bearing on the employee’s employment
    • Conduct your own investigation into the alleged conduct. In some circumstances, you may be able to use the police investigation rather than conducting your own from scratch
      • If a conviction results in the employee losing a license that they require for their employment, consider whether there are any alternative roles they can carry out
        • Make sure to follow your disciplinary procedure, giving the employee the opportunity to provide their version of events during the investigation process and hold a disciplinary hearing. If the employee is unable to or refuses to take part in the process, then advise the employee that if they do not provide information then a decision will be made on the information that is available
          • If there is a criminal trial pending, then you can still carry out your investigation into matters and consider the options available
          • Some examples of conduct outside of work that have resulted in fair dismissals, include:

            • An employee fighting with a colleague in a nearby car park;
              • An employee failing to prevent a colleague causing disruption to other guests and damage to a hotel room whilst on a work trip
                • A police officer convicted of dangerous driving
                  • A teacher found to have indecent images of children on his computer, although he wasn’t prosecuted
                  • If you are facing a situation where one of your employees has done something outside of work that you consider may amount to misconduct and/or is facing criminal charges then the key is to still follow a fair process. If you are looking for guidance on how to handle such a situation, please contact the employment team on 0333 323 5292.



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