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Jenny
Jenny, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 6305
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor specialising in Employment Law and general legal matters. Please start your question For Jenny Only
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Need help with employment law, one or two employees have planted

Customer Question

Need help with employment law, one or two employees have planted itching powder in certain office chairs and staff coats, we know who the culprits are but can't prove it. Two affected staff have had to see a doctor due to the severity of the inflammation. How can we deal with these staff they have both been employed for more than three years
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jenny replied 2 years ago.
Customer:

Hello my name is ***** ***** I am happy to help you today. How do you know it was these 2 employees?

JACUSTOMER-ysosvs9m- :

Because our supervisor caught them attempting to plant it before,

Customer:

Are you the employer?

JACUSTOMER-ysosvs9m- :

Yes, I am

Customer:

Ok thanks when did this occur?

JACUSTOMER-ysosvs9m- :

The first time when the supervisor caught them was a couple of months ago, although Ionly learned about it on Oday this week.

Customer:

You say the first time? Have they continued to do this?

JACUSTOMER-ysosvs9m- :

The first time didnt actuakly happen because the supervisor caught them. The second incident with the actual planting of the powder we can only guess at between Wednesday morning and Friday end of day last week.Friday is the more likely day.

Customer:

Are they still at work this week?

JACUSTOMER-ysosvs9m- :

The one was in today, and I held a fact finding meeting with her today.She denies anything happening last week, but confirmed that the other member of staff did have itching powder at work a few months ago. I suspended her today rightly or wrongly? he other lady is on holiday due back this friday

Customer:

HI yes you did the right thing and you should suspend the other person on their return. Obviously what they have done potentially amounts to gross misconduct. You need to take a statement from the supervisor about finding them with the powder and statements from the employees. Unless they have compelling evidence that it was not them then you can form reasonable belief that they have committed an act of gross misconduct sufficient to terminate. You will need to hold a disciplinary hearing and give them the right to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union rep at that meeting. You should also give them the right to appeal.

JACUSTOMER-ysosvs9m- :

Would we have to dismiss both employees? especially as the one today is denying any involvment, she says she is being singled out and it isnt fair. If we dont have total proof could we be taken to court for unfair dismissal?

Customer:

I thought you said that the supervisor caught them? If they did then that would be enough to have reasonable belief. There is always a chance they could take you to tribunal. You do not need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they did it, as it is not the same burden of proof as in a criminal court.

Customer:

You just have to show reasonable belief. If the supervisor caught them with the powder that would be enough.

JACUSTOMER-ysosvs9m- :

Just to confirm, the supervisor caught them a few months ago, but because they were caught, there wasnt suffucient powder planted, as they immediately stopped. This recent event they were not caught in the act, but based on the previous occasion, and the dreadfull skin irritation two staff have suffered we believe they have done it this time.

Customer:

This is enough to form reasonable belief in my opinion.

Customer:

They had the powder and stopped because they were caught. It is reasonable to assume it is them who did it this time unless there is compelling evidence to the contrary.

Customer:

A Tribunal would not interfere with that assumption.

JACUSTOMER-ysosvs9m- :

ok, I understand, so I take statements from the supervisor, and the two problem staff. Do I need to interview any other staff that may have been on shift at the time? If I understand you right, its all based on the incident a few months ago, because the employees " have form " so to speak

Customer:

yes unless other people have done similar or there is other compelling evidence it is reasonable to assume it is them and to dismiss them for it. You should interview anyone else who may be a witness to the events.

JACUSTOMER-ysosvs9m- :

Thank you, ***** ***** been very helpful. Could I come back to you later in the week if anything else comes to light that I dont know how to deal with?

Customer:

Yes you are welcome to ask for me by name at any point. I would be grateful if you would take the time to rate my answer as i am not otherwise credited for my time. Thank you .

JACUSTOMER-ysosvs9m- :

Yes I will rate the answer shortly, thank you for your help with this

Customer:

No problem at all.

Jenny, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 6305
Experience: Qualified Solicitor specialising in Employment Law and general legal matters. Please start your question For Jenny Only
Jenny and 8 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi I have another question,which follows on from the last incident, As a result of our internal investigations, it would seem that the supervisor may be the one at fault. Many employees that we interviewed have said that she spends most of her time in the toilet making herself sick.i have monitored this too since and believe she is doing this.given that she is painfully thin,making many mistakes in her work, and is now making allegations that she is being harassed outside of work,I am concerned about her mental state. I suggested going to the police regarding the accusations she is making but she says she has destroyed the evidence.its all very bizarre but can I insist she seeks medical advice and we will support her in her work. Also as her employer could I contact her doctor with my concerns? This is an awful situation, I have suspended her and have a meeting planned for tomorrow afternoon
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi I need more information following on from the " itching powder " incident. I carried out internal investigations, interviewing both staff who had been named as the culprits plus others not involved. Both named staff categorically denied planting itching powder, and nobody else on shift at the same time saw anything. At least five staff have said that they believe the supervisor is suffering from " what they call a nervous breakdown" They have said she is always in the toilet, and believe she is making herself sick. Myself and another supervisor have monitored this and found that she is visiting the toilet at least four times an hour. We could not prove if she is being sick. She is however painfully thin ( and didn't used to be ) she is making mistakes in her work. She has admitted that she has passed out a couple of times in shops, and she has had time off for sickness recently too. We are also told that she is drinking rather heavily outside of work. My question is can I question her about this? then offer an olive branch to seek medical help, or can I contact her doctor or family members? I am concerned about her mental state, if she has made claims that staff have attacked her with itching powder & now says she has been sent unordered take aways outside of work, amongst other things then I am in a real predicament. I have offered to go to the police with her regarding both incidents but in the case of the take aways she says she doesn't even know where they came from???!!! she also says she had threatening text messages but has had her phone stolen. She doesn't want the police and she seems to have no evidence. What a mess!!!

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