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Suspended for alleged Gross Misconduct (theft) for helping another colleague


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I work in a shop where each night that I work, I gather up the unsold newspapers and process them. A colleague asked me if I could get the tokens out from a certain paper. I have done this for 3 days now.

 

I have been caught out as I as for an envelope (wish kept my mouth shut) never gained permission from anyone above me. I did blurt out a name when I was asked did I get permission. I was bloody stupid and have no reason why I did this. My manager is disappointed with me for lying and breaching trust. I was never caught taking the coupons from the paper or handing them to the colleague. The area where I do the papers is in the staff area and no CCTV cameras.

 

I am suspended on full pay and not allowed to visit the shop or contact any colleagues.

 

The thing is sometimes, we have papers in the staff room - esp during the weekend as sometimes we receive more papers than supplements (have to insert the supplements ourselves) and cannot sell these to customers. Sometimes these newspapers have other coupons like 'free bottle of pop' '2for1 at Alton Towers' and these coupons are torn out by colleagues, and probably without permission. The same applies to the customer magazine (paid for) and have them in the canteen and coupons are torn from that.

 

There have been other colleagues that have been ripping out these coupons recently in front of me. I did mention these names to the manager that was gathering up facts. Not too sure what is going to happen to them.

 

I am not benefiting from these coupons at all. Colleagues rely on me.

 

I am very worried that I will get dismissed for this. I don't feel I can carry on with life and want to end it.

 

I feel I have let myself down.

 

It's my 2nd suspension in 3.5 years. The first one was adding too many loyalty points to my account. I did get a FWW for 12 months.

 

I am in the union and will be contacting her.

 

I am on annual leave as from tomorrow for a week til 19th Jan.

 

If I am dismissed, then its unfair as colleagues have been ripping out coupons from various sources for years and never been caught. I am surprised with that as one colleague ripped out the same coupon from 10 magazines for £1 off something when this particular product was down to £1.

 

I have never ripped out any coupon before this episode.

 

Any advice please?

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First of all, it sounds like you need to talk to a doctor urgently if you are thinking suicidal thoughts. You can go to A&E for an assessment. Or call the samaritans.

 

Secondly, it's just a job. Most dismissed people go on to work again, it's not the end of everything.

 

Thirdly, we're not there yet. Things may come good.

 

Has your FWW expired?

 

Your rep should be able to make some good challenges on "customer and practice."

 

Try not to panic. This kind of thing happens to more folk than you know! People survive!

 

xx

Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!

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Which coupons are they exactly?

 

I would also agree that this is not worth having suicidal thoughts over. It happens and there are far more important things to worry about, but if you are not able to cope at the moment you do really need to seek the advice of the Samaritans or get some qualified medical help.

Any advice given is done so on the assumption that recipients will also take professional advice where appropriate.

 

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I wouldn't guess at the outcome because I don't know enough about you or your employer, or their contract with the newspaper publishers.

 

But, there is little point stressing. I find constructive action helps calm me - is your cv up to date? Registered with agencies?

Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!

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I am in the process of doing my CV and applying for a couple of jobs.

 

I have an issue with who to use for a 2nd reference. Been with my present employer for just over 5 years. The previous 3-4 years of employers don't exist anymore. I worked for a temp agency for a firm that still exists. When my current employer tried to contact the firm, they had no record of me, despite I was there for 18 months and all the managers in my dept have left.

 

Friends cannot help either as I know them for not long enough or speaking to them after a gap of 15 years and only been in contact for 1 year.

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done any night classes?

done any volunteering?

 

both are good sources

Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!

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Could give the names of 2 seperate managers in your current employer. Such as director/line manager or line manager/HR etc

Any advice i give is my own and is based solely on personal experience. If in any doubt about a situation , please contact a certified legal representative or debt counsellor..

 

 

If my advice helps you, click the star icon at the bottom of my post and feel free to say thanks

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Hi mizzy

 

Does the company have a specific policy regarding removal of coupons?

Does the company actually lose out in anyway? i.e. returns to the wholesalers

To be honest I can't see the Retailers (coupons) being upset by it either.

If others have done it and there is no policy in place, you need to stick to your guns.

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Having previously worked for a newspaper wholesaler for over 10 years I can advise that in theory credit would be refused for unsold papers returned minus the vouchers.

 

In reality however this would involve each paper being manually checked prior to scanning using whatever system the wholesaler uses which is totally impractical.

 

This would only happen either under instruction from the publisher which is very rare and would only be a small percentage of all retailers or secondly where you have specfic suspicions of this activity going on.

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Completely agree. Wholesalers do routinely check batches of papers where either they have been instructed to carry out random checks, or where there is a financial gain to be had from stores removing coupons and using them improperly (for example in order to gain a free product with the voucher or to obtain credit back for something which they haven't actually 'sold' to a customer). In the latter cases, I have known retailers to be either re-charged, refused credit, or, rarely, to actually be prosecuted for fraud, so it is important to know whether this incident was instigated by the wholesaler catching the retailer out, or the employer acting independently of any wholesaler investigation. I have also known wholesaler members of staff to be summarily dismissed for doing exactly this. In Post #1 I would be very concerned at the suggestion that it is considered OK to remove 'Free Bottle of Pop' coupons and to pass them to others to commit an act of fraud, and where there is a real monetary value attached to the redemption of the coupon.

 

Copies of papers and magazines in the staff room should also always be paid for first - never mind that there may not have been enough supplements with the papers - that usually happens where there is a late-breaking story and extra papers are printed but it is too late to print additional magazines to go with them. The papers are still charged as 'stock' to the store and are supposed to be displayed beneath those that do have supplements so that the publisher benefits from the added interest in the front-cover story - it is normally against the rules to have any stock items kept in staff areas which are then returned for credit.

 

Whilst your previous FWW may now have been expunged, I would be concerned at how you keep falling into acts of dishonesty (albeit at the relatively minor end of the scale) and why you didn't learn to be squeaky clean after the last incident. If you are going to stand any chance of redeeming this, you are going to have to explain what, and who, led you to believe that this practice was acceptable. You will stand a better chance if the investigation was on the employer's part rather than being generated by any wholesaler refusal of credit.

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Totally spot on by Sidewinder who obviously has a great understanding of the newspaper wholesale business.

 

I remember a few years back the Express/Star newspapers used to publish £1.00 off Hello magazine each day and internal checks we did on voucher submission at the request of the publishers was quite enlightning when we had retailers returning more of these vouchers than the number of Hello magazines we supplied them and in some cases when they were not supplied any at all.....

 

If I had to speculate based on experience I would suspect it is unlikely to be a as result of a wholesaler based on the fact we are talking about a supermarket and these do not generally fall under suspicion for this kind of thing mainly because most don't tend to raise queries regarding returns/credit which I would suspect is due to the fact most don't cross check credit awarded versus actual returns.

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Dare I suggest the (age-old) defence of 'custom and practise'?

 

If many employees are doing it, it might be seen as an implied 'unofficial' employee benefit for all workers. In a way you may have already commenced such a defence by pointing out that other employees are doing this as well. The innocence of openly asking for an envelope can only support your defence.

 

Please don't get bent out of shape over this. As I mentioned elsewhere on this site yesterday, sometimes our perceptions about the size of a problem can be wholly different from management's view. Hopefully it will blow over soon and everything will settle down.

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Just because something illegal/unlawful etc is being done often, doesnt make it right.

Any advice i give is my own and is based solely on personal experience. If in any doubt about a situation , please contact a certified legal representative or debt counsellor..

 

 

If my advice helps you, click the star icon at the bottom of my post and feel free to say thanks

:D

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Absolutely correct - don't forget what we are talking about here is potentially criminal, so C&P would almost certainly be a non-starter UNLESS the OP could not possibly have known/understood that what was happening was wrong, and/or it was expressly sanctioned by a more senior colleague over an extended period of time.

Any advice given is done so on the assumption that recipients will also take professional advice where appropriate.

 

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A former colleague (now retired) (person A) lives next door to a colleague that still works there (person B). B told A that there are three colleagues on suspension - myself and the other two colleagues I have said their names as they either took the coupons themselves (person C) s or they asked me to do it for them (person D)

 

This is certainly very interesting as they are actually benefiting from the coupons, I had no plans to use the coupons as these holidays the coupons are for are my kind of hell. But the thing is are they going to lie? I am even more worried because of this in some ways and other ways I am glad they are getting the punishment for this.

 

Obviously, I will not mention in the meeting that they are suspended and comment if they mentioned like I was unaware of it - which shows I am following suspension rules.

 

Now, A did process the papers when she was working and in those days, many of the weekend papers had free DVDs and CDs in them. She did distribute the discs among colleagues. I did not pick any of these discs up as it was not my kind of thing or had the disc at home. The manager will not be interested in this as the colleague has retired 2 years ago.

 

What do you think about what will happen? My first meeting is Sunday am.

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I think you will find speaking to retired staff won't be a violation of the suspension rules.

 

Although I often wonder how employers can enforce the rule anyway. I can understand if you are contacting people against their will or threatening them ( that's probably against their will, anyway ).

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Isn't this always the case? but not the right way.

 

Well, there is the rights and wrongs of a situation, and if management get it wrong they will do their best to shut you up ahead of a hearing, that's for sure. But sure, sometimes claimants can misread the situation, over-react, and head off to an ET convinced they are in the right, when they aren't. A whole heap of negativity that should never have happened - and they may lose their job along the way. Very sad.

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If you have never been told that it is unacceptable to remove coupons from unsold newspapers and have been led to believe that it is normal practice then you should be completely honest about that - I would certainly not be approaching it from the 'I was not personally benefiting' angle as that suggests, rightly or wrongly, that you knew others were doing wrong but were willing to help them do this. If you had never been told, or if there is nothing in your training literature, then this should be a matter of retraining.

 

The discounted holiday tokens have no intrinsic value to either the publisher or the retailer, but I would not be volunteering information unless asked about having removed coupons that entitle the holder to a free drink/chocolate bar etc - that gets into a more complicated area as it could involve stock integrity.

 

Surplus DVDs and CDs given away with weekend papers are perfectly OK to distribute amongst staff once the promotion has ended unless there is a specific requirement to return them - neither the wholesaler nor publisher require these back and it has always been the case that they may be destroyed or otherwise disposed of by the retailer. Where you would need to be careful is in ensuring that colleagues do not walk off with them in bulk (as they have a habit of turning up on ebay which really upsets the publisher!) but for personal use it has always been standard practice to offer them to anybody who wants them.

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Although I often wonder how employers can enforce the rule anyway. I can understand if you are contacting people against their will or threatening them ( that's probably against their will, anyway ).

 

In my suspension letter, it has been said I am not allowed to visit the store, unless going to a meeting about the investigation/disciplinary. Though does not mention about going to other shops. Some retailers make their suspended colleagues to be banned in every shop of the chain. I don't have the phone numbers of the other two suspended colleagues and they are not on the social media. Then, earlier this week, it was 2 colleagues' birthdays. Normally, I write on their facebook wall wishing them a happy birthday, but not done so. The only FB contacts I have done this week are to those friends that never worked for my employer. I never updated my status. Some customers recognise me. I was in the chemists down the same road, collecting my prescription. A customer said 'is this your day off?' I said 'it is' - though that day of the week is my day of normally.

 

I think if the employer KNOWS you have broken these simple rules of entering the premises and/or talked to colleagues about this, then it will not help your case and get disciplined for breaking suspension rules.

 

Sidewinder, we were never been told that it's unacceptable practice to remove coupons or free discs from papers. If we were, I would not be in this position. I don't process the unsold magazines - more complex and different system they use. But there are even better free gifts like £10 face cream, paperback books etc. At work, I am often finding magazines with the free gift removed. I put a note 'free gift stolen' on the front of the mag. I wonder how many shop workers across the UK have taken these gifts when they return them unsold? Mag wholesalers have no clue as if its a colleague or a customer taking the gift! I have seen newspapers strooned in a messy heap down another aisle and yep the customer took the coupon for whatever it was.

 

As when we had the free discs, those that taken them home only took 1 or 2. The other one was for a relative.

 

The whole issue with the ripping out coupons is huge. It's not just me and the two colleagues. Anywhere that sells newspapers has had this.

 

If I am dismissed, I will get this appealed.

 

Do you think, the three of us will get the same punishment level? If not, which one will get the biggest one?

 

The two other colleagues are supervisors. One of them is part time on the checkouts/customer service. She was the one that asked me to rip the coupons out for her. The other one is her dept does the processing of the papers and magazines.

 

If I do get a warning, can I suggest to transfer to another shop? If the other two are allowed back to work, they may find it difficult and uncomfortable to work if I am still there. Though I will be financially losing out as I will be driving to work and not walking and be driving 23 miles or 55 miles per week, depending on which shop I will be transferred to. The other shops are larger and have more departments.

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