Employee theft is a problem in most businesses and employers need to deal with it fast and fairly when discovered. Some of the things stolen include money, equipment and supplies. However, how is an employer supposed to investigate employee theft?
Investigating employee theft should be handled with care to avoid cases of litigation. A company should have a policy and procedures outlining how to perform theft investigations so that the process can be efficient. Employees should be made aware of the company policy regarding theft and its consequences.
Even if an employee is caught in the act or there is evidence of the stealing, the employer is advised to follow the right procedure. Sacking the employee on the spot may not be the best thing to do to avoid the risk of litigations based on breach of contract, defamation or unfair dismissal.
Steps to follow to investigate employee theft
The first thing should be to investigate any theft claims in order to acquire evidence. Depending on the magnitude of theft, a manager or private investigators can do the investigation. During this time, the employee in question may be suspended or monitored to get more evidence. Investigators and other staff should be advised to maintain confidentiality to avoid leaking information. The employee should be served with an official letter detailing the allegations, the ongoing or impending investigation, consequences of theft, whether the employee is under suspension and other relevant details.
Once the evidence is in and it shows that the employee is guilty, the employer then needs to make a decision of the appropriate action. Just make sure that the evidence is concrete in case there is a lawsuit. If the theft is of high magnitude involving large sums of money or theft for a long duration, the employee may be fired or given a summary dismissal. If it is petty theft, an employee can be disciplined by taking measures such as demotion, restitution, disciplinary letter or unpaid suspension. While determining the action to take, the employer should consider factors such as how long the employee has been working there, admission of guilt, apology and if the employees promise to repay.
It is your role as an employer to ensure that employees know the consequences of theft. You should have the right information concerning how an investigation should be conducted, ways of collecting evidence, how to have proper systems to prevent theft.