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Blog  »  February 2014  »  What to do if you suspect an employee of stealing - Blog
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.



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