You aren’t on your own if you are confused about what we can and can’t do at any given point in time.

The laws relating to what we can do during the coronavirus pandemic have changed regularly over the last year.

But what can you do if an employee is fined for breaching the rules when they’re not at work?

You strongly believe this is a significant health and safety concern, breach of the law, morally wrong and putting your staff and business at risk.

So can you discipline or dismiss them?

Where an employee is issued with a fine for breaching coronavirus laws, in most cases it won’t be a reason for disciplinary action if the offence was committed outside the workplace/working hours.

In cases of off-duty criminal conduct, the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures says that “consideration needs to be given to what effect the charge or conviction has on the employee’s suitability to do the job and their relationship with their employer, work colleagues and customers”.

But it depends on what it is that they have done.

If the fine was for going to see their grandparents this is different from attending an illegal rave.

You should therefore consider whether the nature of the offence makes the employee unsuitable for the type of work they do, taking into account their seniority and status.

For more serious offences you may be able to raise the issue of bringing the business into disrepute to justify disciplinary action, e.g., if there’s been negative publicity surrounding the case and a link, can be made to you as the employer.

Or if there has been an outbreak of covid at your workplace which directly relates to the employees breach you may be able to demonstrate health and safety related disciplinary concerns.

As with any potential disciplinary matter, you must follow your usual stages of investigation, hearing, decision and appeal.

You will need to be able to show a link between the criminal breach and the impact on the workplace.

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