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Can an employee’s behaviour outside of work have implications on their work life?

It’s an unfortunate fact that hooliganism appears to have reared its ugly head again at football matches up and down the country. Incidents of aggression, assault and racial abuse are some of the key components of the anti-social behaviour we used to see back in the 1970’s and 80’s, which are, sadly, once again a regular issue at matches.

For example, just this last weekend a pitch invader had to be wrestled to the ground by stewards after attacking Nottingham Forest players in their match against Leicester City, and racial abuse was directed at Bolton Wanderer’s players and coaching staff at their match in Morecambe. Two Rotherham supporters were also arrested after an Accrington Stanley player was assaulted in the 88th minute of their match.

Football is working hard to identify and ban the perpetrators, using social media platforms and matchday footage. Their images are in the public domain for all to see, including employers.

What implications does this have on an individual’s work life? And would an employer be justified in acting against employees who are found to have been involved, even when the behaviours took place outside of the workplace and working hours?

Alan Price, CEO at BrightHR, explains what options are available to an employer who finds their staff engaged in illegal or untoward activities:

“Poor behaviour outside of work does not necessarily mean losing your job but some employers may decide that the connection between work and the employee’s behaviour is too strong, and that continued employment is untenable.

“Taking action, up to and including dismissal, for something an employee does outside of work can be fair, but this all depends on the reason behind it and the procedure used. Employers need to make sure they are acting within the range of reasonable responses to what has happened.

“All fair dismissals for poor behaviour are built on a good investigation into what happened, so this is the first step.

“Every case will be different, but key elements to consider are the particular role that the employee has, what they are alleged to have done, and whether they were identifiable at the time – for instance, perhaps they were wearing company uniform when it happened, or maybe their workplace is listed on their social media profiles for everyone to see.

“Employers are more likely to bring outside behaviour into question when the employee’s actions bring their integrity in the workplace into doubt. Others may look to act because continuing to employee the person concerned could affect the success of the business or bring it into disrepute. An employee letting their hair down is not likely to make the newspapers, but serious anti-social behaviour very well might.

“Clearly, the more public exposure of the incident, the more at risk the business is reputationally.”