Problems with Employee Theft?
One of the most difficult situations to negotiate in employee relations is how to appropriately handle an employee whom you suspect has been or is stealing. Employee thefts run from stealing office supplies from the storage room and stealing from co-workers’ lockers to falsely filling out time sheets, mishandling company intellectual property, customer identity theft, working for others in your time and worse.
Because there’s so much variation in severity of employee theft, there’s almost never a hard and fast rule for how to deal with it when it happens. Here are some tips to help you make a more informed decisions about how to handle employee theft:
- Catalogue every piece of evidence, including physical evidence, witness testimony, security footage, financial documents, etc. Remember to document every incident along with the date and time. Should you decide to later terminate the offending employee or involve the police you’ll need this documentation to justify your decision.
- What disciplinary options are available according to your company’s policy? Does the person have a history of stealing from previous employers? Is this employee likely to steal again? These questions will help you decide if the employee’s offense is worth a warning or something as extreme as immediate termination or the need for further professional investigation and advice. As an employer, suspecting or discovering employee theft is highly upsetting. However, it’s best to keep your cool and to remember that the only aspects of the situation that matter are: a) evidence; b) the severity of theft; and c) company policy. And as far as evidence goes: If you’re unable—or lack the means—to catch an employee in the act of stealing then consider hiring a specialist investigator such as Fox Associates who can help you detect employee theft.
Why Employees Steal
When caught either in the act of stealing or when having to confess for one reason or another later, research has shown that many employees cite the fact that the company made it so easy to do so and, therefore, the temptation was too good to resist, even though their overall ethical beliefs would know that stealing was wrong. Stealing from your employers is not acceptable under any circumstances. Whether it’s just taking a few notepads and pens from the stationery cupboard to money going missing from a till or to an outright attempt to defraud your employer, any of these actions constitutes theft and is unacceptable behaviour regardless of your motives
Investigating Suspicions of Theft
In dealing with the possibility of theft, a company must seek to gather some kind of hard, tangible evidence that theft has occurred and that they can link that to a particular person. Accusing somebody of theft is a highly risky move to take unless you have hard evidence to back it up. Obviously, the likes of CCTV can help prove guilt in certain circumstances. Computer records are another useful tool in detection. By using a Professional Investigator such as Fox Associates Private Investigators of Leicester we will help provide you with the evidence needed.
The surprising fact would seem to be that employees who have been caught stealing have not been under any real financial pressures to do so. Many of them will point to having observed other senior members of staff helping themselves to this or that and so believed it was perfectly acceptable for them to follow suit. In other instances, perceived injustices against them, feeling undervalued or the way they’ve been treated by their bosses have also been cited as other reasons why they have stolen from employers.
Seek Legal Advice Before Confronting an Employee
Once you feel you have gathered enough evidence to support your theory more firmly, you need to present that to your company’s legal advisor first of all. If they feel you have a watertight case with enough evidence to prove their guilt then it’s important that you conduct any internal interview with the person in a calm and rational manner. It may be that you want to present the evidence to the Police, in which case a properly presented report will have to be written. At Fox Associates we have years of experience of writing these kinds of reports in an acceptable way.
The fact of the matter is though that before it gets to any point of confrontation you need to have hard evidence and to seek legal advice about how to proceed in the correct manner as it can be very risky to your own reputation and could even result in legal action being taken against you for slander, if your assumptions have been totally unsubstantiated.
Fox Associates call us now on 07850 355022 or 0116 2751381