I suspect that a member of staff has been stealing from the business. Help!

I suspect that a member of staff has been stealing from the business. However, I’m not entirely certain of this and the employee is otherwise extremely valuable to my start-up. How can I go about dealing with this situation?


Traditionally, employee theft has been associated with retail outlets where there is cash in the till and an abundance of merchandise for the taking.


But eCrime in non-cash businesses is soaring and reported to be one of the major challenges businesses will have to face in the future.

Ecrime includes intellectual property theft, identity fraud and embezzlement.


Disturbing new statistics reveal that internal employees commit two thirds of thefts and 10% of failed businesses are a direct result of theft or fraud.


So without turning into a paranoid Sherlock Holmes or installing sophisticated surveillance equipment, how do you manage suspected theft in your business?


Firstly, it is recommended that you deal with it swiftly.


Before entering into any discussions and to avoid a potential unfair dismissal claim, you need to be sure that you have sufficient evidence and you can prove to a tribunal or court that the employee is guilty.


Regardless of the size of your business, you should follow the processes that apply (if you are covered by an award or internal documentation relating to an internal workplace agreement) in your workplace.


Your internal policy or agreement should have a clause that covers termination and your right to instantly dismiss an employee for serious or gross misconduct.


Misconduct refers to behaviour that is not directly related to the employees work performance.


When you meet with the employee, have all of the evidence available for them to view before asking them to respond to the allegations.

However, do not intervene if the misconduct is of a criminal nature and could involve future prosecution with a relevant authority.

Prevention is better than cure:

  1. Conduct at least three background reference checks.
  2. Carry out a criminal police check prior to employment (available on the police website for a small fee).
  3. Undertake periodic audits of anyone responsible for handling cash or with access to the finances or internet banking, and remember: “The glue that holds all relationships between the leader and the led is trust and truth is based on integrity.”  – Brian Tracy


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