Small businesses in these current difficult times are particularly vulnerable should their employees decide to be less than honest. Small business owners know that it takes a considerable amount of work to build a successful business and to maintain the business as being successful. A criminal staff member who decides to take advantage of your lax controls for their own benefit can bring your business to the brink, if not to collapse.
Make sure you have an ample system of checks and balances in place within your business. Always keep a sharp eye on money coming in, being cash, cheques or otherwise and also stock, goods or services going out, which have not properly been paid for or accounted for.
Further don’t pay bills before you have confirmed that you have actually incurred them.
In the event that you do discover that an employee has been filching, it is important to suspend them immediately and carry out a proper investigation in line with your defined disciplinary policy. Your employee must have the opportunity to respond to the allegations, and do so in the presence of representation if they wish to bring a Solicitor, family member, or Trade Union official with them to the meeting. You will have to carry out a full and fair investigation or alternatively get one of the professional bodies who can carry out these functions for you to do it on your behalf. The employee will have rights too, which need to be observed and breach of those, no matter how irate you may be at the apparent fraud, will land you in hot water at the Employment Appeals Tribunal.
My client who had been defrauded over a period of 15 months was very irate at the loss, but unfortunately appears to have no prospect of getting the monies back. Sharper checks and balances would have discovered this within a month and while those were in place now, there are of little comfort to him.
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