Employee theft amid cost-of-living crisis

A recent case has focused on an employee of a large department store with over 17 years’ service who was stealing goods from his employer and re-selling them on an online site. Items, including laptops, wearable tech and mobile phones were found during a search of his property and enquiries were made with the customers who purchased the items.

The employee was subsequently imprisoned for two years and eight months following admitting to stealing the goods. Under the Proceeds of Crime Act he was ordered to pay back £45,298 to his employer and a further £10,416 to other agencies with the stipulation that he has six months to pay this back or risk a further 18 months in prison.

New data by insurer Zurich UK suggests that employee theft has jumped by a fifth as the rising cost of living leads to workplace crime. Figures reveal that almost 6,000 workers were caught stealing from their employer in 2022, up from 5,000 the year before. This amounts to nearly 500 incidents every month.

The consequences of employee theft are reduced profits, lower staff morale and in extreme cases, bankruptcy. It is important to remember that theft or other dishonesty would be referred to in the disciplinary procedure as gross misconduct. If an employee commits a criminal offence at work, then the police may also be involved.

Criminal proceedings are concerned with guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, whereas an internal disciplinary process focuses on whether the conduct occurred. An employer does not have to show beyond reasonable doubt that it happened, just that it has conducted a reasonable investigation and concluded on reasonable grounds that the employee committed the theft.

If you would like more information or have any concerns about the subject contact us at enquiries@121hrsolutions.co.uk

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