Worried husband needs some advice.... went in for appraisal today and they have suspended me on suspicion of theft! Mortified and can't believe it! Please help!(14 Posts)
My wife has asked me to post on here for some advice.
I am an assistant manager at a high street store. It's not a massive chain, we don't have an HR department as such just an area manager for 2 other stores and an HR person. I earn £14k.
To cut a long story short, I have had a feeling for a while that my manager does not like me and would prefer the senior sales assistant that I work alongside to be the assistant manager. They are always super friendly to one another and I have always felt like the black sheep despite trying my very best at my job and trying to get on with them.
Today I went in (on my day off) for what I was told was a standard appraisal and I have been told I have been suspended on full pay while they investigate me for theft!! I am speechless. I have never, ever, ever stolen anything - from this or any other job.
They are saying that the till was down £40 one day I was working and that I signed my own bag check a couple of times which is against procedure. I don't remember the till being down £40 and to be honest if it was it occasionally happens. My manager has often cashed up before and I have gone in the following morning to find the till has been out and I have rectified this. So for example it is not just me making or causing these errors. I admit I did sign my own bag check a couple of times but this was because I was working late and I was the only one there when I left!!
They are also saying I am acting suspiciously and in "breach of trust" because when I do an early shift which is from 8.30am I am there from 8am - this is because I live a long way away and my train comes in at that time. Otherwise I am sitting around in the city freezing cold or spending money in coffee shops. So I have been going into work early. I did not realise this was an issue. They are saying 2 people should be on the premises at the whole time.
I am now wondering what on earth to do. I am extremely frightened I am going to end up with a criminal record - even though they don't have any "proof" as such just my own signed off sheets, there is no cctv etc - and even if I don't I am sure I am going to be sacked under gross misconduct as it says in the letter I have received that I am being invited back to an interview and gross misconduct may result.
I have a mortgage to pay, 2 small children and a wife on maternity leave to support (our youngest is just 4 months old)... the other people I work with are all late teens or without responsibilities! I am absolutely mortified and gutted!
Please help. I am desperate for some advice.
I am going to ring ACAS in the morning. Do you think hiring a solicitor to come to the meeting with me would help?
I have never ever been in trouble with the police before ever and I can't believe they are accusing me like this.
You can get a 30 minute appointment free with certain solicitors (either phone around or contact CAB). I would get some advice. I hope you get it sorted out.
Don't fret about the police being involved. They will need evidence that you've committed a crime and breaking company policy isn't evidence. The bit you need to deal with is the risk of losing your job. Get a copy of the company disciplinary procedure as they will need to follow it. Then take the advice to spend 30 minutes with a solicitor who has experience of employment issues.
Start a written log of everything you have written here and more. Document, document, document especially document any proof you have from shift rota's etc that you had no choice but to cash up alone because you were having to work alone. Also document that if you are supposed to never be alone on the premises and that 2 people must always be there, who was responsible for rostering only one staff member? The senior manager has to be ultimately responsible for ensuring adequate staffing levels, surely?
Tape Record all phone calls with your company and staff. Remember to keep your written evidence objective. What you saw, heard and make it clear when you are recording how this has made you feel, your impressions/suspicions.
Are there any staff members who would support you or provide testimonial backing up the reasons why you attend work early?
Try to include every piece of evidence you have for feeling you may be being constructively dismissed through use of the disciplinary procedures.
Should you need extra time to prepare, get your GP to sign you off on sick leave as Disciplinary Procedures cannot continue (i.e hearings etc) when the person is off sick. They must be halted.
Join a union (Transport and General Workers?) if you are not already in one.
Go to the CAB as they can help you with legal representation that specialises in this field.
Look for support groups/industrial dispute specialists online, there is good advice and support here.
Their 'case' sounds very flimsy. Try to remember that the onus of proof is upon them. Are you sure they are not using you as scapegoat for their own dishonesty? It happens more often than you think. The police will not be involved at this stage and even if they do eventually, if the 'evidence' is as poor as it sounds in your OP, then that will become crystal clear to them.
It would be the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers - USDAW www.usdaw.org.uk/ I agree with the others who say go to the CAB and get half an hour with a solicitor. Excellent advice from Mignonette re documenting who was responsible for shift rotas etc. Good luck, sorry you are going through this.
Agree with most of what Mignonette says.
Just to clarify, for disciplinary purposes they do not have to prove that you are guilty of theft beyond reasonable doubt. If it ends up in tribunal they will only have to show that their belief that you are guilty of theft is reasonable based on whatever evidence they have.
The standard of proof to get a criminal record is much higher. The prosecutor has to prove your guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Given what you say here it is very unlikely they would be able to do that so I don't think you need to worry about getting a criminal record.
If you are not in a union check whether they would help you before you join. Some unions will only help you with problems that start after you join.
It sounds like the next meeting will be an investigatory meeting. If this is an investigatory meeting they should not take any disciplinary action in the meeting. There should be a subsequent disciplinary meeting. If they take disciplinary action in an investigative meeting you will have a case for unfair dismissal.
If this is intended as a disciplinary meeting they should have informed you of your right to be accompanied to the meeting. It is likely that they will only allow you to take a work colleague or a union rep. Most employers will not allow you to bring in a solicitor. Again, if this is a disciplinary meeting and they have not informed you of your right to be accompanied you will have a case for unfair dismissal.
I would check your company handbook and any policies that have been issued to see if there is anything to say that there should always be two people on the premises. They cannot discipline you for breaking a policy they haven't told you about.
I would also check what your company handbook says about disciplinary procedures. If you are disciplined you should have a right of appeal against the decision. You should not go to tribunal until you have exhausted any possible options for appeal within the company.
Good luck. Hope this gets sorted.
What about the fact that they only suspended him when he came in for his appraisal? How long since you are alleged to have taken the money? Presumably you have been working the meantime?
WronglyAccused, can I ask how long you have been employed by this company?
You will only be able to claim unfair dismissal if you have been employed for a year (on the date your employment comes to an end), unless the dismissal is due to discrimination.
Do you have a written contract of employment?
^ I don't remember the till being down £40 and to be honest if it was it occasionally happens.^
Not really, unless people are helping themselves to money out the till or not giving the correct change. I'm surprised that any company would let that go - whenever I've worked with tills the benchmark for the amount they'd 'let go' was a fiver or less, any more than that and you would be questioned.
Were you the only one working on that till? Do they have procedures to ensure that cashiers don't use eachother's tills? When they clear the notes out of the till, do they count them in front of you so you can see that they're taking the amount they claimed, and not extra? What do they say you should do if you're the last one there and there's nobody to sign your check bag - is there a procedure for that?
The police will need a witness, they will not be interested unless someone actually saw you take the money. Also unless you had exclusive use of the till then the theft cannot be attributed to you. If your manager has let previous losses go without investigation I suspect the company will be more interested in this than your involvement. You need to read all the policies you have access to in order to see what they should have done when this happened in the past. It sounds like he has been too lax and has been caught out by a spot audit by head office. It is or should be standard practice to regularly audit to pick up petty theft. You may be right in your assumption that you are being used as a scapegoat
WronglyAccused, please come back and tell us what has happened
If they are saying you shouldn't be there half an hour early in the morning as there should be two people on the premises then why are they leaving you to work late and cash up on your own, signing your own cash bags?
Just to say, in my work, disciplinary investigations aren't halted due to the employee's ill-health. The employee is assessed by the Occupational Health unit (not their GP), to see if they are fit to atend "formal proceedings". If OH say that they are, then work deems that they are, and expects them to adhere to the management instruction and attend the proceedings (interviews, hearings, etc). Sometimes they do the meetings remotely, i.e. via conference call. Not attending or dialling when OH has said you are fit may become another disciplinary matter.
You may want to check if this is the same where you work.
Sorry to say this but start looking for another job.Having been in a very familiar position myself, if you feel they are trying to push you out and that you might get sacked, then leave.
We waited believing that they could not do anything as the evidence was so non-existent. However after being sacked the only option was a tribunal which in itself is a long drawn out process and does not pay the mortgage. In addition, at tribunal, as long as your employers can prove they followed procedure then they will win.
If you were not supposed to sign a book off and you did, leaving reasonable doubt in their minds then a tribunal will not say you were unfairly dimissed.
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