What makes the issue of fraud tricky is that you have to prove intention to mislead or commit fraudulent acts.
If you suspect fraudulent behaviour, you need to act; you need to take action immediately, otherwise, it may lead to the corruption of the workplace atmosphere and professional culture you’ve tried to put in place. Here’s how best to deal with a case of fraud in the workplace.
Make the staff aware
It’s all about prevention; make the staff aware of how the company views issues of fraudulent activities (and other kinds of unacceptable behaviour) by writing it down in a company policy booklet and making sure staff members are knowledgeable. Taking a tough stance from the start – and making it clear from the start which behaviour is acceptable and which is not – can prevent many unwanted situations. It’s advisable to have a booklet ready which employees contractually affirm they have received and read. Staff awareness is the best prevention.
It often happens that the employees themselves are not aware that they are doing something wrong; sometimes employees take their work home (and also whatever stationery or tools they need for that), or they are simply misguided and think that they are entitled to do certain things without permission. For these reasons, prior training is important.
When it’s obvious, however, that the employee understands very well that something is wrong and that the actions are against company policy, you should always gather evidence before making an accusation.
Even though the evidence may be overwhelming, you still need to follow proper procedure to ensure that the accused has the right of proper defense. Follow the procedures of the company when it comes to disciplinary hearings and action. Interviews can be recorded (with prior permission), and then transcribed by an appropriate UK transcription service to be included in reports.
Bear in mind that dismissal is a very serious case; avoid it whenever you can. Be swift in your decision, but follow legal guidelines and ensure proper procedure. Also, be conscious of the work atmosphere; as a manager or owner of a company, you are trying to create a culture.
One more thing should be mentioned – an important issue: it’s not possible to place the suspect on probation whilst the investigation is conducted. The probationary period is something that is only allowed at the beginning of the employment contract and is agreed on by both parties in the contract. It is, however, possible to place the employee suspected of fraudulent behaviour on suspension – though of course, such a decision must be warranted and have a solid legal basis.