If one were to survey employers about the various forms of misconduct they have seen in their workforce there would no doubt be some eyebrow raising incidents that popped up. A recent case involving a nurse from Basildon Hospital in Essex gained widespread media attention for not just one strange alleged incident but for whole host of alleged activities that must have shocked bosses and other workers when it came to light.
The case has highlighted the sometimes bizarre nature of employee misconduct and also the possibility that improper behaviour may go unnoticed for quite some time. It also demonstrates the importance of employers remaining vigilant to misconduct by their employees, particularly if it affects the wellbeing of other workers or the reputation of the organisation.
Where misconduct is uncovered, it is vital that employers follow disciplinary procedures carefully and take action without unreasonable delay.
The Bizarre Case of Nurse Abiola Apara
An investigation was started into Abiola Apara after she was accused of treating one colleague like a personal servant between 2004 and 2007. Complaints were also made about her interactions with other colleagues. The nurse is currently facing misconduct charges which are being heard by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
The primary accusations against Ms Apara include allegations that she made a clinical support worker drive her to IKEA, mow her lawn, install a washing machine and carry out various maintenance tasks in her home. Other allegations claim that she inappropriately shouted at and ignored colleagues for prolonged periods and asked one nurse to provide a reference for her daughter despite having never met her.
It is notable that this case is being heard by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the statutory body responsible for regulating the nursing and midwifery professions, and not Ms Apara’s former employer.
Managing Employee Misconduct
Clearly few employers could possibly envisage the precise activities that are alleged to have taken place in this case. However, it is possible to draft disciplinary procedures to take in a wide variety of activities deemed inappropriate for employees to participate in.
There are no specific laws related to the formulation of disciplinary procedures but they must be fair and they must be consistently applied. Where an employee is accused of gross misconduct, dismissal without notice is an appropriate sanction if a fair procedure is followed such as an investigation being carried out.
Misconduct that is deemed more general or only serious will not usually be grounds for dismissal without notice unless there has been previous incidents and a fair procedure has been followed in dealing with them. It should be noted that employees with more than two years service are protected from unfair dismissal.