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Hi all, my fiance has been accused of theft in the workplace. She works for a private care company and moves around from house to house providing care to mainly elderly patients. She was asked into the office for a seperate matter to this allegation and was told she could bring a witness. ( I don't want to go into the initial work related issue-it was a minor issue on something unrelated)

On arrival at the office she was told her witness/colleague could not be present and she would be facing a new allegation of theft in the workplace.

 

Her line and senior manager then put to her that an allegation of theft had been made by a client and her name had been mentioned.(other carers may have been at the property within the unmentioned timeframe) They would not discuss by who, when/where the alleged theft took place and that at this time the client did not want the police involved. They have suspended her(did not mention under what pay condition) and said no more information will be offered until a full investigation has taken place.

 

what rights does she have?

Should she be suspended on full pay?

Does she have a right to more information at this stage?

Can she involve the police without consent from the client?

 

many thanks

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this is obviously very serious.

 

It seems to me that the employers are handling this very very badly indeed. I think it was wrong of them not to allow her to have a witness. I think it was wrong of them not at least to give her some basic information so that she could start either to give her side of the story, or have time to reflect on what it was all about. The employers approach is merely put her into a position where presumably she is highly stressed about something that she doesn't understand and she has no idea when it will be dealt with.

 

If the employers had been clever, they would have carried out as full and investigation as possible and then when they were in a position to be more certain about the situation, they would have called in and could have had a reasonable discussion about the matter there and then.

 

You say the other carers may have been at the property. This suggests to me that actually you know which property and therefore who it might have been who made a complaint.

 

How long has she worked for the company? This is important so that we can understand what her employment rights might be.

 

What was the other work issue that was to be discussed? You say that it wasn't relevant. But to me it seems more than a coincidence that there are two issues both at the same time and it makes me wonder whether there is some movement against her.

 

Her immediate action should be to make a detailed note of everything that has happened so far. This means the way that she was called into the office, everything that her employers told her, what she told them and where has been left.

 

She should also make detailed notes about this unrelated work issue – which may become relevant later on – you never know.

 

She should keep an entire journal of everything that is said as verbatim as possible including dates and times. She must not keep the Journal of work. You must keep it at home. And keep it highly detailed and up-to-date.

 

At the same time she should try to write down any recollection of any people that she has been caring for, any arguments, any differences of opinion, – anything at all which might later on the relevance when the allegations are finally disclosed to her.

 

Is she a member of the union? If not then is there a union? If there is then now is the time to join. She should also start doing lots of research on the Internet about employment rights and about allegations of theft by employees. She should also start discovering as much as she can about industrial tribunal procedure and about unfair dismissal.

 

It seems to me very possible that when this kind of thing happens, that it destroys the relationship between employer and employee and it may mean that the job is going to come to an end anyway.

 

She should start thinking maybe about whether she should be looking for another job. Of course the problem is that with this hanging over her there is the important question of references.

 

I would suggest that she writes a very polite formal letter to her employers, expressing surprise and disappointment at the accusations which are being levelled against her. And pointing out that what they have done so far is quite unfair to her as it has left her mentally and emotionally inner turmoil on the basis of unexplained anonymous allegations. She should also point out that nobody has told what her payment status is why she is suspended. Ask very nicely if they will give her reply on these points by return.

 

Keep us informed. When there are further developments then maybe we can give you more concrete advice as what to do.

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Hello there, welcome to the forum.

 

Does your fiancee have a copy of her employment contract or employee booklet? Thay should state how their disciplinary procedures work.

 

Suspension should normally be with pay, if I've understood other posts on this forum.

 

My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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good point about the contract and employee booklet. It had completely slipped my mind. You are quite right the suspension should normally be with pay, but as they don't seem to have mentioned it, I think it needs to be asked about. The fact that it hasn't been mentioned and needs to be asked about is another indicator that the company is not following proper procedures. Although it is harrowing, the more mistakes the company makes in dealing with this – the stronger the position you will find yourself in if later on you have to make serious complaints.

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Hi all, my fiance has been accused of theft in the workplace. She works for a private care company and moves around from house to house providing care to mainly elderly patients. She was asked into the office for a seperate matter to this allegation and was told she could bring a witness. ( I don't want to go into the initial work related issue-it was a minor issue on something unrelated)

On arrival at the office she was told her witness/colleague could not be present and she would be facing a new allegation of theft in the workplace.

 

Her line and senior manager then put to her that an allegation of theft had been made by a client and her name had been mentioned.(other carers may have been at the property within the unmentioned timeframe) They would not discuss by who, when/where the alleged theft took place and that at this time the client did not want the police involved. They have suspended her(did not mention under what pay condition) and said no more information will be offered until a full investigation has taken place.

 

what rights does she have?

Should she be suspended on full pay?

Yes, unless there is contractual provision that states she won't be.

Does she have a right to more information at this stage?

No.

Can she involve the police without consent from the client?

I would very strongly advise doing any thing. Sit tight.

 

many thanks

So far there has just been an investigatory meeting, it would seem. Does she have a written statement of the terms and particulars of her employment?

A company handbook/Disciplinary & Grievance procedure?

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this is obviously very serious.

 

It seems to me that the employers are handling this very very badly indeed. I think it was wrong of them not to allow her to have a witness. I think it was wrong of them not at least to give her some basic information so that she could start either to give her side of the story, or have time to reflect on what it was all about. The employers approach is merely put her into a position where presumably she is highly stressed about something that she doesn't understand and she has no idea when it will be dealt with.

 

If the employers had been clever, they would have carried out as full and investigation as possible and then when they were in a position to be more certain about the situation, they would have called in and could have had a reasonable discussion about the matter there and then.

 

You say the other carers may have been at the property. This suggests to me that actually you know which property and therefore who it might have been who made a complaint.

 

How long has she worked for the company? This is important so that we can understand what her employment rights might be.

 

What was the other work issue that was to be discussed? You say that it wasn't relevant. But to me it seems more than a coincidence that there are two issues both at the same time and it makes me wonder whether there is some movement against her.

 

Her immediate action should be to make a detailed note of everything that has happened so far. This means the way that she was called into the office, everything that her employers told her, what she told them and where has been left.

 

She should also make detailed notes about this unrelated work issue – which may become relevant later on – you never know.

 

She should keep an entire journal of everything that is said as verbatim as possible including dates and times. She must not keep the Journal of work. You must keep it at home. And keep it highly detailed and up-to-date.

 

At the same time she should try to write down any recollection of any people that she has been caring for, any arguments, any differences of opinion, – anything at all which might later on the relevance when the allegations are finally disclosed to her.

 

Is she a member of the union? If not then is there a union? If there is then now is the time to join. She should also start doing lots of research on the Internet about employment rights and about allegations of theft by employees. She should also start discovering as much as she can about industrial tribunal procedure and about unfair dismissal.

 

It seems to me very possible that when this kind of thing happens, that it destroys the relationship between employer and employee and it may mean that the job is going to come to an end anyway.

 

She should start thinking maybe about whether she should be looking for another job. Of course the problem is that with this hanging over her there is the important question of references.

 

I would suggest that she writes a very polite formal letter to her employers, expressing surprise and disappointment at the accusations which are being levelled against her. And pointing out that what they have done so far is quite unfair to her as it has left her mentally and emotionally inner turmoil on the basis of unexplained anonymous allegations. She should also point out that nobody has told what her payment status is why she is suspended. Ask very nicely if they will give her reply on these points by return.

 

Keep us informed. When there are further developments then maybe we can give you more concrete advice as what to do.

An employee would very rarely have the right to be accompanied at an investigatory meeting, it isn't in the ACAS code of practice and it's very unusual to see such provision in a company's D&G procedure (strange though that they initially said she could and then changed their mind, probably after advice from HR).

Given these are serious allegations involving a vulnerable person, it's perfectly reasonable that the employer doesn't disclose precise details.

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She's been with them for 18months. Not a union member and no direct union associated with her employers. She's worked in care for ten years and never been involved in a disciplinary or had an allegation made against her. I get the distinct feeling that sometimes the face fits and sometimes it don't!! There is quite a lot of bitching that goes on and maybe the first incident has prompted a movement against her as she did question the lack of support when speaking to her manager.

 

She doesn't know who or where the allegation has come from and whether any others, if any, are involved.

It's a very stressful time for her and the guidance/support is very much appreciated.

 

thanks

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I understand how worrying being in this situation can be, but she needs to just sit tight and see what happens next. As Bankfodder said, keep careful note of every thing that happens. I'd strongly advise against contacting anyone- work colleagues, police and certainly don't speculate on who made the complaint and try and contact them.

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Just point here, I wouldn't dignify this meeting by saying that it was an investigatory meeting. An investigatory meeting would investigate. The allegations would be explained - at least a little and questions would be asked.

If later on they try to say that this was an investigatory meeting, I think that you position has to be that it was not and that no investigatory meeting occurred.

 

As she has only been there 18 months, she has employment rights - unless the 12 month rule has changed - but awards for unfair dismissal for this lenght of service are very poor.

 

There is not enough work history here that they would feel that they owed her any particular loyalty. This kind of thing can make a future working relationship impossible, so she may need to start resigning herself to the fact that she is going to have to find another job - although not until this issue has been sorted out.

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There are a few private care companies that employ staff on 0 hours contracts and then give work as and when it comes meaning a suspension without pay would be easily achievable.

 

Check the contract.

 

I know through experience there are many allegations of theft in this manner and they tend to fall into the following categories

 

1. the carer has indeed stolen it

2. another carer has stolen it

3. a family member has stolen it and pinned it on the carer

4. the service user has got it wrong and no theft has taken place.

 

the devil is in the detail which the employer seems not to have provided yet.

 

is this cash from what the service user has given the carer to shop with, cash from a safe, an item etc

 

does your fiancée use communication sheets in the house to log what they do,take etc for the next carer/family to review, what systems are in place for use of money (if this is the theft they refer to)

 

I think your going to have to wait until they actually set out the full allegations, the real downside to these investigations is that you are never ging to get any access to the service user to check their story, even if the allegations are dropped there is a significant chance that your soon to be mrs will not be allowed to work there again which could lead to further problems if they say there is no other work for her.

 

Unfortunately it's a waiting game for now. When she does go in she needs to make sure she notes the exact allegation and how when where it is alleged to have happened as she will need to satisfy her employer it could not have been her.

Edited by Atlas01
terrybull speeling
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  • 2 weeks later...

Update: My fiancee was sent a letter asking her to a further meeting to discuss the investigation. She'd only arrived home at 13:35 to find the envelope on the doormat. On opening she discovered the meeting was scheduled for 14:00 that day!!(24th March). Without notifying me of the situation she rushed up to office to meet with management. The letter did say she could bring along a work colleague but, with insufficient time to organise this, she went alone. I clearly went mad when I found out what she had done because she should have contacted them to re-arrange due to insufficient notice. Her reasoning for going was the fact that she has reached a point where the stress of the situation was taking it's toll and she just wanted to see where the investigation was up to. She is well aware that any further meeting will have to organised in a professional manner!!.

 

The new findings of the investigation:

 

The client has been named.

A date and approximate time of when they/the client think the money was stolen.

 

'BLOODY JOKE' I said.

 

Things not mentioned:

 

A timescale from when the money was present to when it went missing.

Who was present/visited the property within this timescale i.e. other carers/family/friends

Which other employees, or even how many, are mentioned/involved in the theft.

 

I have spoken to my Senior Shop Steward today and he advised my Fiancee to speak with the police(crime prevention)

This she has done. She did not mention dates/names/company name etc.. Just basically that she has been named in an allegation of theft in the workplace(client's home). They advised her that this is a serious situation and, from what she said, agreed that her managers were dealing with the situation very badly.

Mainly the timescale of the investigation and lack of information was of great concern. They advised her to press management for more information and instructing a solicitor may be her only option if this drags on any longer. Slander and deformation of character may have to be discussed if more evidence/findings are not presented and to also mention how her mental state is deteriorating, ecpecially with the 'investigation' moving at such a slow pace.

 

We are now considering her next move. Should she write a letter outlining her concerns i.e. lack of information/evidence,investigation timescale ?

Should she mention she has spoken to the police(without disclosing any information which would breach her contract or disrupt the investigation) ?

Would instructing a solicitor be wise and if so ask if him/her could be present at the next 'investigatory meeting' ?

 

At the moment she is still suspended on full pay. I'm really worried about her. Her mood through this harrowing time has taken an all time low and I feel so helpless. If only I could have ten minutes with these ********s to give them a piece of my mind!!

 

Any thoughts on the present situation would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again for your support

Edited by joel28
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Going to the Police was not a good move. In any event crime prevention was also the wrong department. The onus on reporting a crime is with the victim as without a victim there is no chance of a conviction in court. What ever the rights and wrongs of the situation the client has a concern that money has been stolen and according to the client your fiancee is the most credible suspect. The employer is handling the situation, albeit badly, and more information is being departed to your fiancee. I would forget about defamation and slander as, a case for these would cost a fortune and difficult to prove. All your employer needs to prove is that they have listened to the concerns of a client who made an allegation and took action. The correct place for action, if it come to that, is in the Employment Tribunal.

 

I hear your pain in this post, and we have seen this many times from OP's, but one painful question needs to be asked in these cases in order to correctly advise, and that is... did your fiancee take the money? Caggers often don't ask directly but advice can change as and when the OP admits things. Have you asked her directly? It is a painful thing to admit to but might be less of a trauma than progressing through a procedure only to find the evidence overwhelming and lies showing one up.

 

Sorry to be direct.

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NO. I would trust her with my life. I know 100% she did not take the money. We have a very honest relationship and i know she is not capable of theft. She is a very honest person. TOO honest sometimes!! I don't want to go into detail at this time but until a concrete time frame is given we can only guess who stole the money. From general conversation about work colleagues I could easily suggest one or two others who fit the bill. The problem with the whole situation is lack of evidence/information as i have stated. Because of what I consider very poor management of the whole situation my Fiancee is suffering and I am growing increasingly frustrated.

 

Hope this helps.

 

thanks again

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They gave her a specific date of when the client thinks the money was stolen. The problem with that is a different carer would have visited the previous evening and another carer on the afternoon on that day. My Fiancee visited in the morning. They haven't said where the money was, (drawer/purse/under floor boards!!) when it was placed there and the last time it was seen before noticing it was missing. I feel these details are crucial to my Fiancee proving her innocence or at least narrowing the search down to a few people (carers/family/friends/misplaced by client). At this point management may never be able to prove what has happened, but at least all parties involved will be able to form their own opinions.

 

I think deep down her managers know she is not the 'type' and she has always had good relationships with people she has cared for. I'm sure these people would describe her as honest, hard working and someone you could depend on, as would I.

 

I am well aware that this will probably end with nobody found guilty of the theft, and if my Fiancee continues working for company, restrictions in place to ensure all carers involved will not be able to provide care for this client in the future.

 

For now I would like to concentrate on how to ensure her employers deal with situation speedily, fairly and legally.

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I think that all she can do for the moment is to be open and helpful at all times. If she feels that they are giving her too little notice about meetings or too little evidence then she should let them know - preferably in writing but in a form which is noon-confrontational.

 

At the same time, keep meticulous notes throughout so that she a detailed record of everything.

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They probably won;t tell her where the money was on the chance she slips up and says something (as they consider her to be capable of the theft via suspending her)

 

Although there is little detail at the moment you should be concentrating still on the time, if there is no clarity and 3 carers could all be possible candidates for the theft she should be asking (if this is the case) why only she is suspended.

 

In addition she should write/email the investigator and ask that she is furnished with a copy of the notes concerning the service users statement, this may not be provided until a disciplinary hearing but will be crucial to see what has actually been said.

 

Does the service user suffer from any level of dementia or is it simply hands on care your wife provides?

 

I'll also go back to the communication sheet that "should" be in the house for carers to pass information on to each other, i've seen thefts where the person stealing the money has logged on the sheet that £XX was left in order to make it look like the next person in stole it.

 

I do still think there is little we can advise until they take this to a hearing, until then you should be requesting as much as possible in writing, if they ask why it's a simple answer, natural justice is underpinned by the fact a person must be allowed to prepare their defence against any allegation that is put their way, witholding information from someone under investigation means a fair and impartial investigation cannot be completed until this is done. Whether you have to wait until a hearing for it is a game employers do tend to play

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I am well aware that this will probably end with nobody found guilty of the theft, and if my Fiancee continues working for company, restrictions in place to ensure all carers involved will not be able to provide care for this client in the future.

 

For now I would like to concentrate on how to ensure her employers deal with situation speedily, fairly and legally.

 

The trouble is that the employer only has to show that they acted reasonably. They don't have to prove there was a theft only that a theft was reported to them. They only have to show that the client thought it was your fiancee and that their investigation , flawed as it is, was reasonable. if they dismiss her (the scapegoat) and none of the others I don't think she will have much comeback. The employer will argue they were protecting the vulnerable person and a dismissal is fair because of that.

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Well, if it reasonably could have been more than one person, the reasonable thing to do would be to dismiss all of them.

Though as you say, the bar is pretty low when dealing with vulnerable people. If there's ambiguity as to whether the money was actually taken, they should examine if it's possible to give the accused different duties perhaps.

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Well, if it reasonably could have been more than one person, the reasonable thing to do would be to dismiss all of them.

Though as you say, the bar is pretty low when dealing with vulnerable people. If there's ambiguity as to whether the money was actually taken, they should examine if it's possible to give the accused different duties perhaps.

 

Pulp as you know the employer does not have to differentiate between who they dismiss or not. The Tribunal will only consider their actions as regards the person before them. I don't think we should give the OP false hope. If the employer has in mind to get rid of her they will.

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Pulp as you know the employer does not have to differentiate between who they dismiss or not.

Eh? Yes they do! They have to dismiss the person(s) they can demonstrate it was reasonable to assume were guilty of the act of misconduct. And, as has been shown, when confronted with a situation where it was evidently one of a group of people and they're unable to discern which person it was, it is reasonable to dismiss all of them.

The Tribunal will only consider their actions as regards the person before them.

And if it transpires that the act of misconduct could equally have been commited by a number of other employees, yet they were not subjected to equal scrutiny or sanction, then that inconsistancy will make the dismissal unfair.

I don't think we should give the OP false hope.

I'm not. If the employer does act consistantly, and was, say, to dismiss all suspects, then the dismissal could well be held to be fair.

If the employer has in mind to get rid of her they will.

Yes, but how they go about doing so will determine whether that dismissal is fair or unfair.

wibble wibblewibble

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I am of the opinion, that this may amount to yet another case of a "breach of the mutual trust and confidence."

 

Malik v BCCI 1997 IRLR "An employer shall not, without reasonable and proper cause, conduct itself in a manner calculated and likely to destroy or seriously damage the relationship of confidence and trust between employer and employee."

 

Morrow v Safeway Stores [2002] IRLR 9 The EAT holds that "any breach of the implied duty of trust and confidence will inevitably be repudiatory, entitling the employee to resign and claim constructive dismissal."

 

I am not suggesting your partner claims constructive dismissal. However, given the circumstances, it remains a possibility.

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