A senior employee at Robert De Niro’s film production company has been accused of wasting ‘astronomical amounts of time’ bingeing Netflix during working hours, abusing expenses and using Robert De Niro’s air miles for personal gain.
Unfortunately, this sort of behaviour is not limited to the companies of the rich and famous, it can be just as much of an issue for other organisations (although less glamorous types of loyalty points may be at issue than air miles!).
So, what can employers do to reduce the risk of such behaviour arising in their organisation and how should it be tackled if the worst does happen?
Top Tips for Reducing the Risk
When it comes to areas such as expenses, company credit cards and loyalty points acquired in the course of employment, it’s important to have clear policies in place that set out what the rules are.
One of the most common problems employers can experience in relation to these areas is one of employee attitude. Without a clear policy, employees can view certain actions as ‘perks’ rather than them doing something wrong. Classic examples of this are employees using the company credit card to make personal purchases with the intention of repaying the money or rounding up mileage for expenses claims, where the employer does not intend to allow these actions.
When it comes to what employees can do during working time, again rules are key. Different organisations will take a different approach to what is and isn’t allowed – some will require employees to devote all their working time to work, whereas others may for example allow a reasonable amount of personal use of mobile phones or the internet during working time. Whatever the position is it’s important to be clear – it’s unlikely even the most generous of employers would be happy to find that an employee has binge watched 55 episodes of Friends in four days during working hours! This is alleged to have happened in Robert De Niro’s organisation.
Just as important as having clear rules is making sure employees know about them. Communication is key! Employers can communicate policies and rules in a variety of ways, including by drawing employees’ attention to key policies during induction, getting signed confirmation that the employee has read and understood the employee handbook, through training and getting employees to periodically re-confirm that they are aware of the rules.
Good communication should not only reduce the risk of misconduct occurring but will put employers in a more robust position when dealing with the matter if an issue does occur.
Dealing with Misconduct
In most cases of suspected misconduct employers should carry out a reasonable investigation and if this shows there is a case to answer, follow a fair disciplinary process. In outline this will involve:
- Issuing a disciplinary invitation to the employee. This should include details such as the arrangements for the meeting, the allegation(s) against the employee, the potential consequences if proven, a list of the evidence and information about the right to be accompanied. The evidence should be provided to the employee along with the invitation letter.
- Holding a disciplinary hearing, ensuring the employee has the opportunity to put their case forward.
- Giving the employee a written outcome and a right of appeal. This should not be done during the disciplinary meeting. Employers should bear in mind that in some cases, further investigations may be needed before an outcome can be fairly given.
It’s important to seek advice from Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd before taking any action if you suspect an employee of misconduct. We can provide practical help and support throughout the process. Furthermore, if your employee has less than two years continuity of service it may be possible to dismiss them without the need to first go through a disciplinary process, although the safety of this route will depend on the facts of your case so advice should always be sought.
If you have an employment law matter you would like assistance with, please don’t hesitate to contact us as we are happy to help.