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Accused of theft by an employee!?

Can you take disciplinary action against an employee who falsely accused the employer of theft?

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We recently had several hundred pounds stolen from our office safe, which only five people have access to. Unfortunately, there's very little evidence to enable us to identify who stole the money.

We carried out a brief internal investigation regarding the theft. We treated all employees equally, asking them the same questions in the same manner. One employee has acted quite badly to the investigation, but without hard evidence, we haven't been able to directly accuse anyone of the theft.

However, said employee directly accused me (the employer) of stealing my own money in an attempt to frame him because he's looking for another job (which he disclosed after the theft). The accusation was witnessed by someone else too. Do I have an disciplinary recourse for the false accusation?

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03rd Jun 2019 13:07

What would be the point?

Try and avoid taking it personally because that can cloud your judgement. What would you do if he was making that accusation against another person?

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to paul.benny
03rd Jun 2019 13:09

Would it be deemed a breach of trust between employer and employee, which is sometimes classed as gross misconduct?

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to Lee11_1989
03rd Jun 2019 13:18

It might be a breakdown of trust. But if it's a heat of the moment remark by a employee who's already planning to leave, formal disciplinary action looks excessive.

If the employee is repeating the allegation, especially if doing so on twitterface, that might look like gross misconduct.

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By frankfx
03rd Jun 2019 13:15

Have a word with ACAS. Free guidance.

If only to ensure that the procedures and processes you followed are water tight.

What notes are on the employee s files.

Have those notes and conclusions been shared with employee s.

The employee may be bad mouthing you.

So protect yourself from a gruntled employee.

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03rd Jun 2019 13:31

The pot and kettle should probably both consult an employment lawyer.

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03rd Jun 2019 14:03

You did it, didn't you?

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By tom123
03rd Jun 2019 14:37

I expect the employee felt just as aggrieved at the accusation as you have when it came back to you.

A difficult situation all round, but probably best to leave it.

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03rd Jun 2019 14:56

I don't really see what you gain by interviewing staff and putting everyone's back up, nor trying to have a pop at a member of staff who is off anyway. Let them go.

NB 5 people with access to the same safe is probably 3 too many. Id change the number and reduce to two.

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By ioncube
03rd Jun 2019 15:28

Your safe can likely be broken into fairly easily, even if using an electronic combination, so with that in mind you should have CCTV in place. Forget recriminations and make sorting out your security a priority. CCTV might suffice, but you could also review procedures such as considering whether all five really need access, whether they need it at all times, how often access is required, how frequently the code is changed etc. Good luck!

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By DJKL
to ioncube
04th Jun 2019 13:00

Not sure with ours, suspect a jellyman might be needed or a good lock picker (It is an old T Withers safe with nothing much in it these days)

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to DJKL
04th Jun 2019 13:52

DJKL
You know all the Technical Terms... were you the 6th man on the Hatton Garden job....

Remember... no extradition treaty with Scotland, you will be ok...

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to Tom 7000
04th Jun 2019 14:09

Tom 7000 wrote:

Remember... no extradition treaty with Scotland, you will be ok...

There's always the European Arrest Warrant.

I say always… I mean until Halloween. (DJKL - you look like you need a 5-month holiday...)

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03rd Jun 2019 15:52

So are you fairly sure that one of your employees has stolen cash from the safe? It couldn't just be an accounting error giving rise to an APPARENT shortfall?
If so then keep your eyes open for further dishonesty. A theft like this is unlikely to be a once in a lifetime act of dishonesty.
David

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03rd Jun 2019 16:34

Is he (the employee who has accused you) aware that all employees have been questioned in the same manner? Or could it be the case that he mistakenly believes that he is being singled out for the theft whereas his co-workers are not?

Maybe he is deflecting the blame because he's guilty and thinks he's been rumbled, but it could just as easily be the case that he thinks he's being accused (even if it wasn't your intention) and he's lashed out in a moment of anger. If you were to dismiss him on the basis that the trust and confidence between employer and employee has been broken and he then decides to challenge his dismissal, can you refute the latter as a possibility?

As mentioned above, if an employee is stealing from you it's not likely to be a one off occurrence, especially if they know that you don't have any proof. Tighten up security, reduce the number of people who can access the cash and possibly implement some kind of Entrapment style laser system around the safe.

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03rd Jun 2019 16:58

Slightly off topic - do you need this quantity of cash on the premises?

It's horrible stuff that needs a lot of costly looking after and is vulnerable to theft.

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04th Jun 2019 10:43

If you felt really unhappy about it you could put him on Gardening leave as he is leaving. This is what other employers do including the large accountants.

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04th Jun 2019 12:09

Why would you have a monkey in a safe? It should be in your pocket (DLA) or in the petty cash tin controlled by the PC controller.

I would put it down to £500 of training cost so you don't do it again...

I cant imagine squaring up to the people in our building and asking them if they robbed the £500.... I think they would all instantly start applying for a new job...and it would destroy the comraderie

I certainly would if it was the other way around......

You are braver than me....

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