Theft in any business, regardless of the size of the company, is detrimental to its bottom line. Not only does it affect your profits, but it also signals a deeper issue with employees, workplace culture, and your operations. Unfortunately, theft is common and even more likely during a downturn in the economy.
While you can incorporate a variety of protective measures into your operations, it’s crucial to know how to react to suspected employee theft. The correct response reduces the risk of litigation and sets an example for your portable restroom team.
Before speaking with the suspect, review labor guidelines, your policies, and determine the value of the items stolen. The fact is that proving without a doubt that someone stole from your portable restroom company is complicated.
Fail to go about the conversation the right way, and you could end up paying for a lost employment claim, be sued for defamation or emotional injury, or get hit with a surprise visit from your state labor agency.
Many PROs avoid using the word theft and instead refer to their employee handbook policies on violations, like improper use of supplies or cash handling. That way, if you choose to terminate, you can base it off of a breach of company policy as opposed to the term theft.
Documentation is critical. One of the best forms of evidence is video of your employee stealing. However, there are other ways to demonstrate proof while conducting an internal investigation.
Create a document that lays out your findings. For example, if you interview staff witnesses, it’s best to prepare your questions beforehand. Record each witness account (with their permission on the recording) and take detailed notes. Then, type up a statement and ask your witness to sign and date the document.
Don’t forget to include copies of the specific violations in question along with the accused employee’s written acknowledgment of your handbook policies.
Here’s the thing, while your first instinct as a business owner might be to pull your employee randomly off to the side, this isn’t the best approach. You can have an informal conversation but treat it as a formal matter. Do this by always having one other person with you. If push comes to shove, you’ll need a backup witness to prove what was said during your conversation with the employee.
Responding to suspected employee theft is a disheartening experience. For many PROs, it feels like a blow to their family company and the culture they’ve built. However, by taking the correct steps and not acting rashly, you can protect your portable restroom business.
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