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Potential disciplinary for being in the wrong place at the wrong time

(16 Posts)
redclover79 Tue 30-Jun-09 16:03:29

I was wondering if anyone had any advice for my friend/colleague. She works on checkouts and for a few months money has been going missing out of the tills. They have a procedure in place where they count the till before you go on without your knowledge and count it when you've finished, again without your knowledge. She has never had money missing but every week she is put through this, occasionally it happens to other people but not to the same extent.
They have now threatened her with disciplinary if money keeps going missing. Is this allowed? They haven't proved it's her (otherwise she wouldn't still be in a job!) so I would have thought there would be no grounds for a discplinary!
She is fed up of being under suspicion but is stuck in this situation, can she make a complaint about being singled out?
Thanks in advance!

ilove Tue 30-Jun-09 16:05:50

Money is going missing from her till while she is on it? It balances before she goes on, and doesn't afterwards?

ilovemydogandmrobama Tue 30-Jun-09 16:08:02

So, the money is there when it's witnessed, but later goes missing?

An employer needs to investigate, but doesn't actually have to prove it's a particular employee, unfortunately.

Is there a way where someone independent can double check?

annh Tue 30-Jun-09 16:18:30

I'm confused, you say she has never had money go missing but earlier you say money has been going missing. Do you mean that it has been going missing out of other tills but not out of hers? Or has money also gone from her till? When you say the money is counted before and after without your knowledge do you mean they do spot checks or that they count it every day/shift?

redclover79 Tue 30-Jun-09 16:21:20

No, her till balances before and after it's checked. Obviously she could be doing it but it seems the only proof they have is that the tills she works on that are not spot checked are sometimes out. There doesn't seem to be direct evidence it's her but this could continue indefinitely!

annh Tue 30-Jun-09 16:34:07

OK, is she the only person using these tills or are there, say, three tills and five people using them? In that scenario, I would expect that everybody would be facing the same disciplinary action. However, if she is the only person using those tills while she is working and money sometimes goes missing but has never been out when they have done spot checks on her, then I can understand them still wanting to pursue the matter. How much money is involved here - are talking amounts of a few pounds difference or more like 20/30 pounds?

redclover79 Tue 30-Jun-09 16:47:31

Could be up to 5 people using the tills, a lot (hundreds) going missing. Other people have access to tills (swapping change/notes etc.), tills counted by different people. I understand them persuing it as from what I know it seems to centre mainly around her. I don't know if anyone else has been told of disciplinary action and I appreciate she may actually be stealing, but if she's not she seems to be the easy option to discipline. As she sees it she is not stealing, has passed when they've checked her so it should be resolved but of course it's not.

Northernlurker Tue 30-Jun-09 16:51:47

She doesn't know when she's being checked does she? So how could she possibly not take money then but take it at other times when spot checked? That doesn't add up to me.

I think your friends employer needs to stop looking at the till people and start looking slightly higher up the chain - who does the checking and who has access to the money after it leaves the tills?

redclover79 Tue 30-Jun-09 17:06:27

That's what I think northern, but whether that will happen I don't know. It's a funny place to work and I've been having a separate set of problems. She doesn't in theory know when she's being checked but she's checked so frequently she has sussed it.
Other companies I've worked for you are present when money is counted into your till, only you operate the till and you are present when it is counted at the end of your shift. Much better system IMO but impractical at this company.

annh Tue 30-Jun-09 17:12:29

Hundreds going missing is fairly serious so I can see why the company are pursuing. If they are doing this properly, they have presumably identified her as the common link on the days when money does go missing. Do the tills have CCTV cameras trained on them?

redclover79 Tue 30-Jun-09 17:19:57

Some tills have cctv afaik. Although if they seriously susected her surely they wouldn't threaten her with disciplinary and would give her enough rope so to speak. Also, they would fire her for gross misconduct not discipline her for being a suspect... That's what I would think anyway!

flowerybeanbag Tue 30-Jun-09 20:00:34

It's perfectly possible to discipline or even dismiss someone for suspected theft without the standard of proof you'd require for a criminal conviction. It's about balance of probability rather than beyond reasonable doubt.

Employers could even potentially dismiss more than one person for the same theft if they really cannot obtain evidence that identifies which of a small group of people is responsible.

So disciplining her without actual evidence, if it's too difficult to get actual evidence, isn't necessarily unfair, no.

However the employer should certainly be taking all reasonable steps to identify who is responsible, in the form of a proper investigation. If more money goes missing and your friend is then subject to a disciplinary procedure, a proper investigation should be part of that. If they try to give her a warning or dismiss her and as far as she can tell they haven't bothered making efforts to investigate properly, she could appeal the decision on that basis.

If there are hundreds of pounds going missing and they have any reason to believe your friend is responsible, I would expect them to have suspended her tbh. It would as you say probably be gross misconduct, meaning dismissal rather than a warning. But the idea behind gross misconduct is that the person has done something so terrible that it is impossible for them to carry on doing their job. So if they suspect her of this but are allowing her to carry on doing her job anyway, if they then try to dismiss her on gross misconduct grounds she could try arguing that they obviously didn't consider it a fundamental problem.

I think it is a fundamental problem, but it's strange they haven't suspended her, and anyone else who may be involved.

redclover79 Tue 30-Jun-09 20:50:53

thanks flowery, I would imagine she's not been suspended because it would be difficult to cover her shift or as I said before they want to give her enough rope...
I can see it from both sides but you are right, they should suspend her or take some sort of decisive action so she at least knows where she stands. If the situation continues could she legitimately complain about the way it's being handled?

flowerybeanbag Tue 30-Jun-09 21:04:01

Yes I think so, if they continue threatening and complaining but not actually doing anything about it I would say she could legitimately complain about that. Apart from anything else without a proper procedure, investigation and decisive action she's not in a position to defend herself anyway. If she is subject to a disciplinary hearing she will be able to put forward a case to defend herself and will be able to bring a union rep as well if she is in the union. While it's all threats and wishywashy talk she can't do that as easily.

redclover79 Tue 30-Jun-09 21:17:29

No union! Will relay all this to her, thanks so much for your help smile it's so difficult to know what to say to her or how to advise her...

flowerybeanbag Tue 30-Jun-09 21:19:32

No problem. If there is no union, at a disciplinary hearing she will still be entitled to be accompanied by a colleague anyway.

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