Serious misconduct

Serious misconduct includes when an employee:

  • causes serious and imminent risk to the health and safety of another person or to the reputation or profits of their employer’s business, or
  • deliberately behaves in a way that is inconsistent with continuing their employment.

Examples of serious misconduct include:

  • theft
  • fraud
  • assault
  • being drunk at work (to the extent the employee can’t be trusted to do their duties)
  • refusing to carry out a lawful and reasonable instruction that is part of the job.

Under the National Employment Standards, if serious misconduct occurs, an employer can terminate (also known as ‘dismissing’ or ‘firing’) the employment relationship without notice.

See Notice periods for information about notice entitlements when a full-time or part-time employee is dismissed for any other reason.

What about other entitlements?

When an employee’s employment ends because of serious misconduct, they still have to be paid any unpaid wages and annual leave entitlements they haven’t used.

Losing a job because of serious misconduct can affect long service leave entitlements. This will depend on where the entitlement is coming from. See the Long service leave section for details about where to find more information.

If an employee is dismissed for serious misconduct they aren’t entitled to be paid Redundancy entitlements.


Andy has been working part-time at a supermarket stacking shelves for 1.5 years. In the last month Andy has been stealing goods. The manager finds out, investigates the matter and believes that this is serious misconduct. The manager terminates Andy’s employment on the spot. Andy is paid out his wages and 1 week of annual leave he hadn’t used yet, but he’s not given or paid out notice of termination.

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Page last updated: 22 Aug 2012