Everyone has had it happen to them—an employee takes something that doesn’t belong to them and uses it, whether it’s toilet paper or a whole set of equipment. It’s important to prevent employee theft before it starts, and the best way to do that is by creating an employee theft policy and including it in your employee handbook.
The following guide will walk you through what needs to be included in this policy and how you can tailor it to your specific business needs.
The law behind employee theft
As a business owner, you are responsible for the safety and security of your employees. This includes protecting them from theft, both from within the company and from outside sources. According to the National Retail Federation, employee theft is one of the leading causes of loss for businesses.
In order to create an effective employee theft policy, you must first understand the law. You can’t take action against an employee without documentation that they have stolen something or have been involved in some other form of misconduct.
Your policies should include a statement about how the person who has experienced theft will be notified, what information will be given during this notification, how it will be investigated and what procedures will be followed.
You also need to determine whether you want these incidents reported to the police or not and any other applicable punishments as determined by state laws. Finally, you should establish methods for preventing future incidents such as using surveillance cameras or putting up signs reminding people not to steal things if they want their job kept secret.
3 types of policies
- The first type of policy is a blanket ban on all personal belongings in the workplace.
- The second type of policy is to allow employees to bring in their belongings, but to have strict guidelines in place regarding what can be brought in and where it can be stored.
- The third type of policy is to allow employees to bring in their belongings, but to have them stored in a central location, such as a locker room.
Example 1 Low-to-Medium Risk Company
In a low-to-medium risk company, it is important to have a clear and concise employee theft policy in place. This policy should include the consequences for stealing, as well as the steps that will be taken to investigate any incidents.
Additionally, this policy should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis. An example of what may need to be included -How often do you want your employees evaluated -What are your consequences for embezzlement -What are your consequences for abuse of computer privileges -Do you allow your employees to work from home If so, how much supervision will they receive What are their obligations when working from home
- Do you provide paid time off for sick days or personal days Who determines whether an absence is due to illness or not (the employer or the employee)
- Will there be other forms of communication during working hours (e.g., email) that is permissible Do these forms count as taking time away from work or does it take no time away from work (if so, why) What about texting with coworkers during work hours; does this count as taking time away from work or does it take no time away from work (if so, why)
Example 2 High Risk Company
If your company deals with high-value items or large amounts of cash, you’ll need to take extra steps to prevent employee theft. Here’s what you can do
- Establish clear rules and consequences for stealing.
- Conduct regular audits of your inventory and cash reserves.
- Install security cameras and require employees to wear ID badges.
- Perform background checks on all new hires.
- Keep track of employee complaints and write up any suspicious behavior.
- Hold regular meetings to discuss your theft prevention efforts.
- Encourage employees to report any suspicious activity.
5 Tips to Reduce Employee Theft
- Require employees to sign a code of conduct or ethics agreement that includes a commitment to not engage in theft.
- Implement security measures such as cameras, badge access, and alarms.
- Conduct regular audits of inventory and supplies.
- Educate employees about the consequences of theft and have a zero-tolerance policy for anyone caught stealing.
- Reward employees for reporting suspicious behavior or incidents of theft.