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9
Aug 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

Employee fairly dismissed over 2 paper cups of coffee powder

A chief kitchen steward for a 4-star hotel in Limerick has lost his case for unfair dismissal over two cups of coffee powder. Krzysztof Scislowski was dismissed from the Strand Hotel in Limerick in March this year after he admitted to taking two cups of coffee powder he liked from the hotel kitchen as it wasn’t available in the staff canteen.

Background

Mr. Scislowski had been employed at the Strand Hotel since 2007 as chief kitchen steward where his duties included the supervision of staff and of cleaning, maintenance of all cleaning equipment and to control the security of hotel stock and property. Two paper cups full of coffee powder were found in his locker during a search after a colleague reported seeing Mr. Scislowski wrapping the cups and putting them into his pocket. Mr. Scislowski initially claimed that he had bought the coffee at a shop and transferred it to the cups when the glass jar broke. But during the third interview, he confessed that he had taken it from the dry-goods cupboard. He said that he had lied because he was scared that nobody would believe him that the coffee was intended for consumption during work and not to take home.

Dismissed

Mr. Scislowski was dismissed for gross misconduct on the grounds that trust was lost when he took the coffee and then lied about it. He appealed the decision to the general manager who upheld the decision on the grounds that the Strand Hotel “has zero tolerance of theft and that the value of the item taken is not a factor”.

Appeal

He told the EAT and that he did not understand the severity of his actions and thought that with an unblemished record that he would only receive a warning. The tribunal found that the hotel was reasonable to believe that Mr. Scislowski had intended on taking the coffee home and that he had breached the trust they had put in him as he was responsible for the security of the stock and when he lied during the initial stages of the investigation.

It's clear to see that once you have company policies and procedures in place and you follow those procedures during a dismissal process, you are protecting your company if a claim were brought against you. 

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Posted in Company handbook, Contract of employment, Dismissals, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employee Theft, Employment Contract, Employment Tribunals, Staff Handbook

19
Mar 14

Posted by
Laura Murphy

Employee arrested after payroll theft

UK supermarket giant, Morrisons have hit the headlines over the last week after it was discovered that payroll data belonging to over 100,000 of its 131,000 strong workforce had been stolen by a member of staff.

The information which includes bank details was published online and sent on a disc to a UK newspaper.
The supermarket has confirmed that the information has been removed from the internet and also that no customer details had been accessed by the thief. They’ve also reassured the affected employees that they will not be “financially disadvantaged” as a result of the crime.

The case highlights the risks employers face with regards to confidential information being leaked. It emphasises the need for employers to take proactive steps in protecting their data. It may not be possible for every employer to implement complex data security systems, but at a minimum, employers need to have confidentiality policies in place that prohibit employees from disclosing confidential data. Internet, email, social media and telecommunication policies will also clarify what is expected behaviour for employees across these mediums. Having robust policies in place will enable employers to take appropriate action where inappropriate behaviour occurs.

See also our blog “What to do if you suspect an employee of stealing”.

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Posted in Company handbook, Employee Theft, Staff Handbook

14
Feb 14

Posted by
Laura Murphy

What to do if you suspect an employee of stealing

Employee theft is a very real challenge for Irish employers. According to Retail Ireland, 39% of Irish retailers have experienced theft of stock by employees.

However, employer theft doesn’t have to be the direct theft of stock, products or cash, it can also include:

a) Manipulation of company records either to embezzle money or to hide the theft of goods
b) Aiding theft by another person
c) Theft of company information for personal or financial gain.

Should employers suspect theft in the workplace, they need to exercise caution in how they proceed. Employers who handle these matters incorrectly can often end up with costly employee claims.

Real Life Story

A sports shop owner in Donegal suspected an employee of stealing. He checked his CCTV and clearly saw the employee pocket money. The owner continued to review the CCTV footage and further incidents followed. The shop owner dismissed the employee for gross misconduct.

Fast forward 2 years later to the Employment Appeals Tribunal where the court finds in favour of the employee. Why? – because proper procedures were not followed.

 

So what should you do?

The onus to prove theft actually took place will be on the employer, therefore it is essential that businesses have appropriate policies in place that will allow for a full and proper investigation. Such policies should include a Disciplinary Policy and a Right to Search Policy. If you don’t have a Search Policy you need to include one!

CCTV Surveillance

The use of CCTV surveillance is heavily regulated by Data Protection legislation. If employers want to rely on CCTV to provide a defense, they should:

a) Notify individuals of the presence of CCTV cameras, i.e. in the Staff Handbook and with signs
b) Never use hidden cameras to watch staff

Dos and Don’ts of Workplace Theft

Although each case will be different the below are general guidelines on how to approach concerns of theft.

Do

Don't

Conduct a full investigation

Don’t take disciplinary action, including dismissal, without giving the individual the right to appeal

Carefully follow your internal procedures, including Disciplinary policies and Right to Search

Don’t urge employees to resign

Notify employees if there is CCTV in operation

Don’t threaten to call the Guards if you don’t intend to

Act only on firm evidence, e.g. financial records, witness statements, CCTV

Don’t forget that employees have the right to be accompanied to disciplinary meetings

Give employees the opportunity to review and respond to any evidence you are relying on e.g. CCTV evidence

 

 

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Posted in Company handbook, Contract of employment, Employee Theft