An employee stealing money and assets from a company is a very unfortunate situation, and a situation that arises more commonly within a company than one might think. 

What should an Employer do if they Suspect an Employee is Stealing from a Company?

If you begin to suspect an employee is stealing from the company but cannot be certain, the first step would be to consult your CCTV footage to gather physical evidence for the investigation process. In your Employee Handbook/CCTV Usage Policy, it should be stated that CCTV footage of the workplace can be used in disciplinary matters. 

It is crucial that the CCTV footage/other evidence confirms that the employee is stealing from the company. A false accusation with no evidence can be damaging to the reputation of both the employee and employer. 

Should I Suspend the Employee?

At any stage in the disciplinary process (including the investigation process) the employee may be suspended from work, on full pay.  You need to follow the steps laid out in your Company’s Disciplinary policy – this would usually state who can authorise such an action. The suspension enables a full investigation to be carried out before a disciplinary meeting takes place (if necessary). No formal action will be taken until the matter has been fully investigated.  During any period of suspension, the employee may not be entitled to access the company premises.

When Should I Contact the Employee?

Following the completion of a thorough investigation into the alleged theft, where disciplinary action is deemed appropriate, a disciplinary meeting should be scheduled with the employee in writing. The invitation letter should include the date, time and place of the meeting. The employee will have the right to be accompanied by a fellow employee/Trade Union official in any meetings and hearings.

What Happens during a Disciplinary Meeting?

The manager dealing with the issue should explain the purpose of the meeting, the alleged issue and go through any evidence gathered or explain the result of any investigation. The employee must be given the opportunity to explain their case, ask questions, present evidence, and give the name of any witnesses that they wish to be interviewed by management. 

Following the disciplinary meeting and after listening to the employee, the manager must decide what action should be taken. Company theft would generally be viewed as gross misconduct and result in dismissal of the employee.

How Important is it for an Employer to follow their Disciplinary Procedure?

In these types of situations, many employers believe they can take an immediate action of firing the employee. However, many employers end up losing legal cases against their employees for not following the correct disciplinary procedure.