Matthew Pinto-Chilcott, Owner of Consensus HR comments: “This is an area within business you hope as a manager you will never have to deal with but unfortunately there are the odd times when things go missing or you note a product that you sale has not shown up as being sold but has now disappeared.
As we continually say, we must never make assumptions and this is where a thorough investigation must take place in relation to the allegation being made, – Theft. Theft is classed as Gross Misconduct and can result in the immediate dismissal of an employee, but the ACAS Code of Practice MUST be followed at all times. Whoever is contemplating acting needs to ensure that the companies (ACAS) Policies and Procedures are followed, and the employee always treated reasonably with an initial letter inviting them to an Investigation meeting, clearly stating the grounds (Allegation) the meeting is being conducted for.
I remember having to do this in the past, when working for a well known retailer and it was not the most pleasant experience as the employee involved was an extremely valued, long serving, customer focused member of the team. However, upon investigating and using the technology we had we could see that she was stealing money from the till and not entering the correct products. Upon fully investigating we found that she had additional monies in her locker when company policy was that no employee should have more than £10 cash on them at any one time and which it was claimed was church monies. After further investigating and gaining more facts and information she was dismissed for Gross Misconduct – Theft and given the right to appeal.
This incident went all the way through the Employment Tribunal (ET) process with it eventually ending up in the Employment Tribunal Appeal in London. Thankfully by taking the correct reasonable action and being able to demonstrate that we had been reasonable throughout and followed the ACAS / company Policy / Procedures with a thorough investigations, we won! It should be noted though, that it is not an easy process and companies need to ensure that they dot the ‘I’s” and cross the “T’s” when it comes to their HR Policies and Procedures.
FAQ – 7 – We found them stealing what can we do?
Stealing is classed as an act of Gross Misconduct which can result in instant dismissal from the company. However, companies must ensure that they follow the Correct ACAS Disciplinary and Grievance procedure in any alleged event or the consequences to a company can be drastic.
The procedure consists of a number of set processes starting initially with a thorough investigation into the allegation, which in this instance is theft. Upon completion of this, the correct further action needs to be taken and a decision made by the appropriate manager.
In this instance, if it was proven then the employee would be dismissed immediately for Gross Misconduct, Theft, but the employer needs to be able to demonstrate that the action they have taken is reasonable under Civil Law and the correct process / law has been followed correctly.
Failure to follow the correct process could result in high awards for unfair dismissal, amongst others, if proven.