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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 49821
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I employ a carpenter full time (since april 2011). he works

Customer Question

I employ a carpenter full time (since april 2011). he works with another colleague on projects on their own. They have a trade UK card and company credit card, and fuel card in order to buy materials, fuel and tools. I have found out today that he has purchased items on the company Trade UK account card for personal use ( transaction date 21 oct). I intend carrying out an informal meeting to establish some details surrounding this event. what other steps should I take? do I have grounds for issuing a written warning or dismissal? what other steps should I take In order to ensure I have taken all possible steps..?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.
Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. have you conducted any sort of investigation so far to establish what these transactions may have been for? Also is this person an employee or self employed? Please note that due to the late hour I may not be able to respond fully until tomorrow, thank you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Ben, have found a card statement with items on I do not recognise, I have text two of my employees to ask have any of you guys purchased these specific items, and one has replied -"yes I bought these items and I forgot to give you the money back" the transaction was on a work day on 21st october, I do not yet know the time of day. The person is employed full time.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.
Misconduct is a common reason for taking disciplinary action against an employee. It could be due either to a single serious act of misconduct or a series of less serious acts over a period of time.
In order to justify that disciplinary action on grounds of misconduct was fair, the law requires that the employer:
a) Conducts a reasonable investigation;
b) Follows a fair disciplinary procedure; and
c) Shows they had reasonable grounds to believe the employee was guilty.
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 formally sanction them. When deciding on the appropriate penalty, the employer should consider the nature and seriousness of the offence and the employee's disciplinary record. Unless the offence was one of gross misconduct, ACAS recommends that the employee should be issued with a written warning.
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.
In this case your decision will depend on the investigation and the potential disciplinary. If there is no evidence that the employee's actions were deliberate or with an intent to steal from the company, he should only be issued with a warning.
Hope this clarifies your position?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Ben, thanks for this. just to clarify, it is clear that the items were bought with company money for use in his own home, ie the items were never intended to be used within the company business... how would this differ from theft for example? I am just trying to be clear on the differences.

Thanks, Simon

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.
It all depends on what his reasons are and whether they appear genuine. It could have been an honest error on his part. But if the evidence points at this being an intentional attempt to use company funds to purchase personal items without paying them back then it is a serious offence and can be theft.
Hope this clarifies things for you?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 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? I just need to know whether to close the question or not? Thanks