Hi Aunty B,
I am a physiotherapist who bought a clinic last November. With the purchase I got an existing office manager, who has been there since it opened about four years ago.
I gave her extra duties, which included banking the cash on a weekly basis. Most people pay us electronically between HICAPS and EFTPOS, so we usually have only between $500 and $800 to be banked.
Well I started noticing in January that she was taking the money to be banked on a Tuesday but it wasn’t going into the account until Thursday. It is a cash deposit, so it goes in immediately. I also noticed that on Tuesday she is taking some of the cash home with her and bringing it back on Thursday, and that it starts out has small bills but comes back as all large bills, although the amount is the same.
It leads me to believe that she is putting the money into her own account for a couple of days for whatever reason, and then giving
it back. When I originally confronted her, she said she had just forgot to deposit it. I have not confronted her yet about what has happened over the past couple of weeks.
My situation is that I don’t want excuses, I just want to let her go. My trust in her is gone. However, she knows a large number of my clients and I am concerned that she will bad-mouth me to get them to not continue receiving care at my clinic.
How can I let her go and make her understand that 100% of the blame goes to her? She is a strong-willed motorbike-riding 42 year old female who is difficult to speak to if she is not getting her way. Please help!
I don’t know whether to be kind or come around and give you a clip around the ears. (At least you’ll be in good hands if I put your back out.)
The reality is this is your business, you have not set the rules, and now you have a problem that is going to be uncomfortable for you to solve.
So you must take a bit of the blame, because when you asked your office manager to take over the banking you should have spelt out the policies and procedures.
This is what you should have said:
- Rule number 1 of my banking policy: The money goes straight in the bank on said day, at said hour, at said minute.
- Rule number 2 of my banking policy: If you decide to take my money and circulate it around town without my knowledge, which may or may not include money laundering through drug/gambling syndicates, then it’s time to get on your bike.
Here are your options:
- Take away all access to money and banking responsibilities and give her other tasks, or
- Terminate her employment.
As our legal adviser Peter Vitale points out, you probably have less than 100 employees, so an unfair dismissal claim is not a problem until after 1 July.
You can explain that she shouldn’t be taking business funds home and why that means you have lost trust in her.
If, as you say, she is difficult to speak to if she is not getting her way, chances are she will not understand and the meeting will be very difficult.
Prepare for that, but do what you have to do. As for your client base, you need to visit them individually to shore up relationships.
There is no silver bullet here – either she’s going to go peacefully or she’s not. But you have to take some action, because leaving your funds and the future of your employees, shareholders and other stakeholders in her hands is not satisfactory.
Your Aunty B.
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