“Right, I don’t want you flying my aircraft, pack your stuff and leave”

This case involving provocation and an “on the spot” dismissal is a stark warning not to let emotions get in the way when managing an employee altercation.

Mr Jones was employed by Fly Light Air Sports Limited as a flying instructor.

He had 11 years’ service.

On the 20th July 2017, Mr Jones informed his line manager and Company Director that the plane he usually flew needed its 50-hour service.

The Director told Mr Jones that he would personally perform the 50-hour service with another colleague.

However, when Mr Jones attended work the next day the service hadn’t been carried out, meaning he had to use another aircraft.

Mr Jones was annoyed and had an altercation with the Director about his failings in front of a client.

During the incident, Mr Jones called his boss a “tw@t”.

Let’s just say that things escalated into a full-blown argument, with tea being thrown and threats of violence.

It ended with the Director telling Mr Jones “Right, I don’t want you flying my aircraft, pack your stuff and leave”.

Believing that he had been sacked, Mr Jones packed up his belongings, put his keys on the desk and left.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Mr Jones didn’t return to work.

On 3 August 2017, he received a letter inviting him to attend a disciplinary hearing on 21 August 2017.

He didn’t attend that hearing either and received an outcome letter which stated that the hearing had gone ahead in his absence and he’d been dismissed without notice for gross misconduct as he’d called the Director a “tw@t” and threatened to hit him.

Mr Jones claimed unfair dismissal.

The tribunal found that in light of the Director’s comment and that nobody told him he was suspended pending a disciplinary hearing, it was reasonable for Mr Jones to consider he’d been dismissed.

The Tribunal also found that his dismissal was unfair as a procedure had not been followed, he’d essentially been dismissed on the spot.

He was awarded over £19,000.

As employers, we must remember to act professionally and always follow procedure.

If tempers flare, then send the individual home for some breathing space rather than get involved in an altercation.

Never dismiss on the spot or say anything that could be interpreted as a dismissal.

If an employee leaves, contact them later to check their intentions.

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