This is a really good article from the New Zealand Stuff news website about the perils of firing staff for stealing. Whilst this has nothing to do with recruitment, I thought this was a great prompt to help managers and business owners understand their obligations when they would like to terminate employment due to theft.
The bottom line is…
Don’t get trigger happy and fire someone without having conducted a thorough investigation into the incident!
Regardless if you have caught someone with their hand in the til, or with company property in their possession, you have to go through an investigation process to establish the facts in the situation, and the employee may have some right of reply to any accusation.
This is also a warning for those times when a referee might make accusations against a former employee – don’t accept what they say on face value! If a referee tells you that they let someone go for theft, you should ask some probing questions so you can establish whether the employer conducted a thorough investigation and whether the employee was charged or managed through a proper performance review.
An accusation of theft that is unsubstantiated or unproven but that is disclosed in a reference breaches privacy legislation and an employer’s obligation to ensure any information kept (and disclosed) about an employee is accurate.
Now I know your first reaction is to throw your hands in the air in exasperation in that it seems like employees have all the rights, but by following proper process, you can avoid a whole of expensive drama further down the track!
Need to find out more?
A good place to start is: Employer and employee must do’s – for New Zealand and Understanding your legal obligations for employing people - in Australia.