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Employment law and criminal behaviour


Generally, issues in the workplace are dealt with by specialist employment tribunals applying employment law. However, there are certain situations in which issues in the workplace can cross the line from being simply an issue of employment law. Criminal acts and issues are an example of this.  

Criminal behaviour by employees:
Illegal behaviour at work. Most unsatisfactory behaviour at work is dealt with internally by the employer’s grievance procedures, within the guidelines of employment law. Criminal behaviour at work, however, such as stealing or assaulting a colleague, may need to be dealt with under criminal law. Under employment law, criminal behaviour may or may not justify dismissal. Whether or not the committing of a criminal offence by an employee justifies dismissal may depend on factors such as the nature of the offence, the type of work for which that person is employed and whether the offence was committed at work or out of working hours.

Harassment in the workplace. Harassment in the workplace, such as sexual harassment, may be a criminal offence under legislation. The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 makes harassment a criminal offence and a civil tort - employers may have a vicarious liability if they knew of the harassment but failed to take reasonable steps to stop or prevent its recurrence. The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1995 created the offence of intentional harassment whereby a person commits an offence if they purposely intend to harass, alarm or distress another individual.

Criminal behaviour by employers:
Health and safety law. Certain breaches of health and safety legislation by employers are able to be prosecuted as criminal offences. For example, the Health & Safety Act 1974 imposes a duty on employers, so far as is reasonably practical, to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees and identifies certain responsibilities of management.

Harassment in the workplace. Rules regarding harassment in the workplace, as discussed above, apply equally to employers.

If you would like to obtain legal advice on criminal aspects of employment law, then Contact Law can put you in touch with a local specialist employment solicitor free of charge. So, if you have any questions or would like our help in finding local employment solicitors please call us at 0800 046 1464 or complete the web-form above.

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