Dear Aunty B,
I hired a PA about a year ago and for the first six months (while on probation) she was fantastic. She was caring, always contributing to good morale in the office – and, I felt, honest. I was over the moon as I had had trouble filling that position before. But then little things began to happen. Once day I noticed she was using petty cash to get herself a coffee. When I asked her about it she insisted she “always” replaced the money (which made me wonder how often she had done it).
She seemed really embarrassed so I didn’t want to push it. Then the other day I saw her put a handful of pens in her bag.
That prompted me to ask the bookkeeper to have a very close look at the company credit card as she has access to the credit card. He immediately uncovered a discrepancy. Two weeks ago the PA used the company credit card to buy new car seat covers for her car. When I asked her about it, she says she got the cards mixed up and immediately gave us a cheque. But now I feel uneasy. Am I just being picky? If I pursue this she might leave. What do you think?
Are you nuts? Of course you have a problem. A major problem. Actually it’s red flag time Robert. Because “Trusting PA” is telling you loud and clear not to trust her and you Robert, are not listening.
What does she have to do Robert? Empty your bank account?
The PA sees no line between company property and her personal needs. Worse, the incidents are increasing in scale. Unless you immediately jump on this, you could end up with a far worse problem.
And Robert, your problem is worse than you think. The bookkeeper. Why didn’t the bookkeeper pick this up before now? He is either sloppy or too chummy with the PA.
This is what you have to do. Call in an accountant to check every transaction going right back to when she started.
Sit her down and have a discussion about what has happened so far. Tell her that you have very strict lines of accountability and you are very concerned that she has breached these. Explain that an accountant needs to go back over the books and you would like her co-operation with this process. Ask her if she can think of any other incidents she needs to tell you about before the accountant does.
Robert, I am afraid the best thing that can happen at this point is that she does get up and leave. The trust has been breached, Robert.
And if the accountant does uncover discrepancies, they you must pursue her and charge her.
Good luck, Your Aunty B.