Employers should ensure that their employees are fully aware of the standards that are expected of them when they are representing the company outside of the formal workplace and the potential consequences if they fail to meet them all.
The standards of behaviour expected should also cover employees’ behaviour at social events organised by the company and in the employees’ own time.
One such case where an employee was dismissed for her unprofessional conduct and bringing her company into disrepute was heard at an employment tribunal where she had brought a claim of unfair dismissal.
The events that led to her dismissal occurred when she and her colleagues were staying overnight in a hotel during a planned marketing trip. The colleagues spent the night drinking and ended up in her room where she went for a ‘somewhat disorderly and noisy jog’ on her balcony which resulted in the hotel’s security being called. The company had also received a complaint from the hotel regarding red wine having being spilt over the furniture and bed linen, which the employee had hidden in a wardrobe and she had not reported the damage to the hotel.
The hotel had been booked and paid for by the company.
The employment tribunal agreed that her company had been right to dismiss her as had her behaviour got out to the press they would have had a ‘field day’. She had failed to take responsibility for her actions and was clearly at fault for the events that had happened. Therefore they found that her company’s decision to dismiss her was not outside the range of reasonable responses.
In previous newsletters we have reported on another high profile employment tribunal claim where a female colleague made a claim for sexual harassment, victimisation and constructive dismissal, for disgusting and lewd comments made to her at a Christmas party. She agreed an out of court settlement for £1million before the tribunal was heard!
Therefore, employers need to ensure that they have a Code of Conduct policy which reinforces standards of behaviour expected whether in the workplace or outside.