Definition of Misconduct and Serious Misconduct:
“Misconduct” means some form of wrongdoing. Usually it will involve deliberate wrongdoing, but there may be circumstances where an employee acts so carelessly that it amounts to misconduct (i.e. gross negligence or recklessness).
“Serious misconduct” involves serious wrongdoing. Where, after a fair process, it is established that an employee’s actions amount to serious misconduct, an employer may terminate the employee’s employment without notice (sometimes referred to as “instant” or “summary” dismissal). The misconduct must be sufficiently serious that it undermines the trust and confidence that the employer has in the employee (e.g. theft, sexual or other assault, or the use of illegal drugs at work).
Sometimes employment agreements list conduct that the agreement says amounts to “serious misconduct”. If an employee engages in misconduct that is listed, that doesn’t necessarily mean that serious misconduct has automatically occurred. In every case the employer must consider all the facts and the employee’s response before it decides whether serious misconduct has occurred. When this is done, what looked like serious misconduct may not be so serious after all.
Also note that minor misconduct cannot become serious misconduct just because it is on the serious misconduct list.