I was amused to read an article that stated that 60% of staff have admitted to stealing from their employer and it seems that the items to be stolen now are of higher value than a biro or a notepad.
Alarming percentages admitted to stealing teabags, toilet rolls, mugs, lightbulbs and even USB memory sticks!
Whilst this is slightly amusing, it provokes a few questions for employers. Why would they steal loo roll? Is it happening in my workplace? How can it be stopped?
Why are they doing it is a great one! Really why would anyone steal toilet roll? Are they just lazy and can't be bothered to go to the shop on the way home? Is it pure vindictiveness? Or, is someone struggling so much financially that they can't afford some of the most basic household items.
This begs a deeper question, how well do you know your staff? Talk to line managers and make sure that they know their staff. If you think you have a problem such as this, ask your line managers to make sure they would be able to spot if an employee has financial worries.
Whether it's happening in your workplace may not be easy to answer if there are no controls over stock of such items. Do staff have easy access to store-rooms? Do you have a stock control system to show how frequently you're needing to buy such items. If the frequency has increased and there's no other reason for this, you could have a problem.
How can it be stopped? Simple procedures of keeping such items under lock and key are somewhat common sense but if that's not possible, or maybe even doesn't stop the issue, you may have to introduce 'Right to Search' policies.
You do not have the right to, and it is in fact unlawful to, conduct a physical bodily search i.e. frisking, if you do not have a clear policy in place. Even if you do have a policy in place, you should always exercise caution before carrying out a search. You may also face claims if you attempt to search a persons workspace without a policy in place.
Ideally this will be an express clause included in the contract of employment together with a policy in the staff handbook. The policy should include examples of when a search may be carried out, by whom it would be carried out, where it would be carried out and the consequences of refusal.
Where a right to search policy is in place, all searches must be carried out reasonably, otherwise you still find yourself open to claims.
If you're in any doubt about what you can and can't do, please get in touch.