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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 44892
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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We are a small business. Our bookkeeper (not qualified) has

Customer Question

We are a small business. Our bookkeeper (not qualified) has been found to have forged company cheques over the last 12 - 18 months.
The employee has admitted guilt and has been sent home to prepare a list of all cheques, amounts and dates to compare against our own internal audit.
In the meeting the employee tearfully admitted a gambling habit and has lost all the funds. The amount is in the region of £15,000 - £20,000 stolen by 6 - 8 forged cheques.

We want to terminate the employment but have concerns that he will be unable to repay or simply disappear without trace, possibly leaving the country to his parents and family.

Please advise the best way for us to retrieve the sums owed.

If we kept him in his job and deducted a monthly amount it will likely take 12+ months and the trust is broken.

Please advise.

-S. Singh (Company Director and joint shareholder)
0797(NNN) NNN-NNNN
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is Ben and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How long has he worked there for?

JACUSTOMER-oqv83svs- :

2 years as a contract consultant. 1 year now on payroll.

Ben Jones :

does his contract allow you to deduct such sums from his pay?

JACUSTOMER-oqv83svs- :

not mentioned in the contract. but i am sure he would agree to this. problem is we don't really want to keep him on anymore, the trust is broken. how can i get the funds back if he no longer works here.

JACUSTOMER-oqv83svs- :

if we promise not to go to the police (he avoids a criminal record), in lieu of him signing a repayment plan?

JACUSTOMER-oqv83svs- :

i would prefer to terminate his employment

JACUSTOMER-oqv83svs- :

would the repayment plan signed by him be enforceable?

JACUSTOMER-oqv83svs- :

can you email me at [email protected]

Ben Jones :

First of all you cannot deduct this money from his wages unless there was a specific written agreement by him consenting to this. But then as you mentioned you do not want to keep him on so this may not be the solution you are after anyway.

If you agree a repayment plan with him in which he admits the theft and is willing to repay it over a period of time then that can certainly be enforceable. The issue is that even if you have this agreement in place, it would not stop him from leaving the country and ignoring his responsibilities under it. It would then be up to you to pursue him and if he is abroad it can be a lengthy and costly process, still with no guarantee of success. You can take him to court but you cannot force him to attend or defend the claim.

So there will never be a guarantee that you will recover the money in full because you cannot physically keep the employee in the country and force them to pay. However, if this is reported to the police, they can commence criminal proceedings against him and depending on the circumstances it can result in a custodial sentence. That will ensure he remains in the country for a period of time during which at least part of the money owed can be recovered through such a repayment plan.

JACUSTOMER-oqv83svs- :

If I report the matter to the police this may ensure he stays in the country. If in the meantime he has paid the funds back, can i ask the police to drop the case at that point?

JACUSTOMER-oqv83svs- :

ie. I would use the threat of him going to court etc, and force his father to repay us in lieu of us dropping the case?

JACUSTOMER-oqv83svs- :

can i ask the police to later drop the case?

JACUSTOMER-oqv83svs- :

or is it out of my control at that point?

Ben Jones :

you can ask them to drop the case if needed, if the complainant is not going to pursue the matter and there is not much evidence for them to go by then they could indeed drop it. Just try not to give such direct ultimatums like "Repay us or we are reporting you to the police", just make it clear that you expect this matter to be resolved amicably but that you reserve your right to inform the relevant authorities and take legal action if needed to protect your position

JACUSTOMER-oqv83svs- :

he is coming in to work tomorrow at my request to provide exact information such as dates, amounts etc to reconcile with our own audit and bank statement rec. I was planning to ask him to type out an admission that he did steal the funds and a list of the cheque numbers. Then i intend to send him home until we have reviewed the matter. would you agree with this course of action?

Ben Jones :

an admission under duress would not be valid so do not force it upon him - suggest it and if he agrees to it then fine. You can certainly suspend him whilst this matter is dealt with but unless the contract allows you to do otherwise, you must suspend him on full pay

Ben Jones :

Please let me know if this has answered your query or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this?

Ben Jones :

I hope this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating, or if you are unhappy for some reason with the advice - please get back to me and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you very much

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