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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 49816
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I have been accused of attempted fraud at work for advertising

Customer Question

I have been accused of attempted fraud at work for advertising unwanted building items that were going to be dumped. The idea was to get someone to take the items off site as opposed to having to pay for a skip, labour etc. someone saw the ad online and reported me to the manager who is now accusing me of attempted theft and fraud. The items never left the building, no money has changed hands, so what grounds do they have for such accusations??
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your question. My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

Is there any reason you think this may not be grounds?

I presume they have the ad?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Yes they have a copy of the ad, my intention was not to pocket money or commit any act of fraud whatsoever. I have never had a fraud charge accused at me in my life, how do I defend myself from what has escalated into a major issue and could cost me my job?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 years ago.
Hello, my name is Ben and my colleague has asked me to assist with your query as it is more my area of law. How long have you worked there for? Are you facing a formal disciplinary?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Hi there, thanks for your assistance, I have worked with this company for 3 years, never had so much as a bad word from anybody in that time. I have a very good reputation and this has come out of the blue, I have never been involved in any disciplinary procedures and don't know what to expect. In hindsight I can see how it has been perceived but my intentions were always to put the money into petty cash to be used by the company as they saw fit, my biggest mistake was not communicating this to my direct manager. In my mind I was using initiative to saving them money but it alls seems to have gone horribly wrong.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 years ago.
Misconduct, such as in this case, is a common reason for taking disciplinary action and it is also a potentially fair reason for dismissal under the Employment Rights Act 1996. It could be a single act of serious misconduct or a series of less serious acts over a period of time.

In order to justify that dismissal on grounds of misconduct was fair, the law requires that the employer:
• Conducts a reasonable investigation;
• Follows a fair disciplinary procedure;
• Has reasonable grounds for believing the employee was guilty; and
• Show that dismissal was a decision that a reasonable employer would have taken in the circumstances.

In addition, the employer is expected to follow the ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures. Altogether, it means that a disciplinary procedure should be conducted as follows:

1. Investigation - a reasonable investigation is needed. What is reasonable depends entirely on the circumstances and especially the nature and seriousness of the allegations. The more serious these are, the more detailed the investigation needs to be.

2. Disciplinary hearing - if the investigation provides sufficient evidence of misconduct, the employee may be invited to attend a formal disciplinary hearing. They must be given prior notice of the hearing, including details of the allegations, allowing them time to prepare. They have the legal right to be accompanied at the hearing but only by a trade union representative or a colleague.

3. Decision and penalty - following the disciplinary, if the employer holds a genuine belief that the employee was guilty, then they can go ahead and dismiss. When deciding on whether dismissal is appropriate, the employer should consider the nature and seriousness of the offence and the employee's length of service and disciplinary record. They also need to act with a degree of consistency if other employees have previously been disciplined over similar issues. Unless the offence was one of gross misconduct, ACAS recommends that the employee should be issued with a written warning.

I know you mentioned that no money changed hands, no stock left the building and so on but you are being charged with ‘attempted’ fraud, not actual fraud. So the issue really is whether the investigation show your actions were likely to amount to attempted fraud and it all comes down to what the employer finds and the defence you provide to these allegations.

In summary, an employer is not expected to prove that the alleged misconduct had definitely occurred. Disciplinary action will be fair if the employer can show that it had conducted a reasonable investigation, followed a fair procedure and held a genuine belief that the employee was guilty. Finally, it must show that the penalty was a reasonable action to take in the circumstances and one that a reasonable employer would have taken.

If there are any doubts or evidence that the above requirements have not been satisfied, an appeal can be submitted to the employer straight after the disciplinary outcome is communicated. If the appeal is rejected a claim for unfair dismissal can be made in the employment tribunal. The time limit to claim is 3 months from the date of dismissal and the claimant needs to have at least 2 years' continuous service with that employer.

I hope this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating, or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you and feel free to bookmark my profile for future help:
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 years ago.
Hello, I see you have accessed and read my answer to your query. Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Hi Ben, thank you for your detailed response, I have been awake most of the night trying to put my thoughts and case together, I have to attend an investigation meeting today at 3pm so I'm trying to gather my thoughts and try to prove my thought process behind my actions. I have never in my life been put in this postion before, never had my character questioned like this. I have worked every hour of the day and night for this company and always had its welfare foremost in any work I have done. My biggest mistake in this action seems to be not communicating clearly my intentions, I have been under extreme pressure over the past 12 months in particular to deliver a contract that has meant that I have taken no holidays, been down staff, worked 12 hr days and I can only conclude that I didn't take the time to consider how this action would be perceived. I was under pressure to clear the area of the equipment to allow project works to go ahead and thought I was doing the company a favour by instead of paying someone to come in and clear the equipment, I could get it shifted and actually have money left over that could be used for the good of the team. I'm devastated that it has come to this, I have always done my best for the company, it just doesn't seem fair that one misjudgement in the light of everything I have done over the past 3 years leads to an allegation like this. Sorry for the long winded rant, I am just at my wits end.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 years ago.
Hi, remember that at this stage you are only being investigated. This is not an indication of guilt in any sense and the employer is just gathering information to decide whether to take this further. So it could still easily be dropped at the investigation stage and not go any further. So this is your first opportunity to try and provide any evidence or explanation to justify your actions and try to explain what your real intentions were
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 years ago.
Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this? Thanks