Ask Us – Short Service Dismissal with baggage
I have an employee who has already been given three verbal warnings about his behaviour. Last week he was to lock up at the end of his shift, which he did but he took the premises keys with him (not necessary for him to do this), then returned at 5am. The security camera shows him opening the till at 5.10, (there is money missing but we cannot actually see it in his hand), he then slept on the premises until he was found by another employee at 8.30 in the morning.
The next day when I was made aware that this had happened I asked him to not to come in to work, but to come and see me. He has made two excuses not to see me. He has not made any attempt to come and see me to explain. He has since messaged me to say he has ‘issues, including depression’ .
What do I do next? I do not want him back as there is now a lack of trust and confidence in him, as well as a concern over missing money. He has been employed less than 18 months.
Thanks for your query. As he’s mentioned depression, you have to be careful. Even though he has less than 2 years’ service as he could claim disability discrimination.
What you have described sounds like it could be gross misconduct, but with the potential discrimination it would be risky for you to dismiss him before you have conducted a thorough investigation with the employee and any witnesses (regarding the theft, his sleeping on the job and his absence) and called the employee to a disciplinary hearing (and there’s a set protocol to follow for that which I can brief you on). If you have issued formal warnings previously you may already be aware of that protocol. If you are not aware, those previous warnings issued may only be classed as informal.
I understand that there is a lack of trust and confidence and a dismissal/resignation is likely – but to protect yourself from a claim, you do need to follow a robust procedure as there may be mitigating factors you need to take into account. In the first instance I’d advise writing out to him to say you would like to understand his account of events and to invite him to attend a meeting. You should also address his absence and ask him to supply a medical certificate for his absence. You are entitled to ask him in for a meeting even if he is off sick – but when and where may take some negotiating. If no medical certificate is forthcoming, you then have unauthorised absence to add to the disciplinary list.
Formalising things often results in an employee resigning. In this case do formally accept it in writing, agreeing to waive his notice period (assuming he states that he’s not working it).
There’s quite a lot here, so do feel free to give me a call. I’m more than happy to give you 30 minutes of my time so you are confident to address this.