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Dealing with employee theft

Friday, 3 March 2017

stature-935639_640From employees fraudulently filling in travel claim forms or time sheets, to stealing company information or expensive equipment, employee theft is a serious offence that needs to be handled properly but with caution. Discovering that an employee has been stealing from you in any capacity can be highly upsetting; however acting in haste can land you in hot water.

It is highly important for an employer to act methodically when dealing with a suspected case of employee theft and have a procedure in place to follow. Acting in haste and terminating someone’s employment without all the facts could lead to a lengthy and expensive unfair dismissal claim and an employment tribunal.

The first step therefore is to begin establishing all the facts over what has happened. You should consult with other employees who may have information about what has gone on. Establish where an offence happened and see if there is any supporting evidence such as CCTV or computer proof to back up your claims, recording everything in writing along the way.

If after your investigations you come to the conclusion that the employee poses an immediate risk to your business then you can choose to suspend them temporarily for a short time. However, doing so at this stage could leave you open to a breach of ‘trust and confidence’. You should at this stage speak to an experienced employment law solicitor to avoid any missteps.

Once you have conducted your investigations, the next step is to begin disciplinary proceedings; ideally these proceedings should be conducted by another member of staff who wasn’t in charge of investigations. After consulting with a solicitor you may then decide to hold a disciplinary hearing which your employee will attend, bringing a witness if they so wish.

In the disciplinary hearing you should explain to your employee (in writing and verbally) what the allegations are, what your evidence is and what the repercussions may be if they are found to be guilty. As you go through your evidence it is important that the employee is given the opportunity to ask questions and to respond to your accusations in full. Finally, you will need to adjourn the meeting and determine whether, after hearing their side of things, you would still wish to continue disciplinary action. If you decide to do so then you should confirm the decision in writing and serve it to your employee.

It’s important to consult with an experienced employment lawyer in order to minimise the chances of a successful unfair dismissal claim from a dismissed employee. For help and advice and for an initial consultation please call us on 020 7611 4848.

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