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Dealing with Employee Theft

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 21 Mar 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Dealing With Employee Theft

Stealing from your employers is not acceptable under any circumstances. Whether it’s just taking a few notepads and pens from the stationery cupboard to money going missing from a till or to an outright attempt to defraud your employer, any of these actions constitutes theft and is unacceptable behaviour regardless of your motives.

Why Employees Steal

When caught either in the act of stealing or when having to confess for one reason or another later, research has shown that many employees cite the fact that the company made it so easy to do so and, therefore, the temptation was too good to resist, even though their overall ethical beliefs would know that stealing was wrong.

The surprising fact would seem to be that employees who have been caught stealing have not been under any real financial pressures to do so. Many of them will point to having observed other senior members of staff helping themselves to this or that and so believed it was perfectly acceptable for them to follow suit. In other instances, perceived injustices against them, feeling undervalued or the way they’ve been treated by their bosses have also been cited as other reasons why they have stolen from employers.

Investigating Suspicions of Theft

In dealing with the possibility of theft, a company must seek to gather some kind of hard, tangible evidence that theft has occurred and that they can link that to a particular person. Accusing somebody of theft is a highly risky move to take unless you have hard evidence to back it up. Obviously, the likes of CCTV can help prove guilt in certain circumstances. Computer records are another useful tool in detection.

Other signs might be where sudden or even gradual changes in an employee’s incompetence or carelessness are not in keeping with their usual performance, although it must be said that this alone does not provide hard enough evidence to confront them. This example is only a supposition though and unless you’ve hard evidence to support your beliefs, there is nothing you can do except keep a discreet but watchful eye on the person you suspect until or unless they slip up and virtually hand you the evidence on a plate.

Seek Legal Advice Before Confronting an Employee

In the event that a suspected employee isn’t caught in the act of theft nor have they confessed, once you feel you have gathered enough evidence to support your theory more firmly, you need to present that to your company’s legal advisor first of all. If they feel you have a watertight case with enough evidence to prove their guilt then it’s important that you conduct any interview with the person in a calm and rational manner.

You should always try not to give them too much advanced notice, if any, that you wish to have a chat with them in private. This is because if they are guilty, advanced warning might enable them to concoct lies or alibis as to why they couldn’t have been involved. Just simply and politely say that you just need a brief chat after work and not give them any indication that it might be about a particularly serious issue. On the other hand, if you don’t feel an interview is quite yet justified, it may be that you can lay certain ‘traps’ or ‘bait’ in such an unobtrusive manner that would not cause the person to become suspicious that you may end up getting your suspicions confirmed that way.

The Interview

If you opt for the interview, however, you need to tell them the reason why you wanted to see them, explain the situation in a calm and rational manner and then give them the right to respond. At first, they might simply refute your claims and stand their ground but the more hard evidence you can introduce after they’ve finished speaking, the more likely they’ll buckle under the pressure and confess. They may not, of course, which is the point at which you may need to seek further legal advice about pursing the matter in court, if it’s a serious case.

The fact of the matter is though that before it gets to the confrontation point, you need to have hard evidence and to seek legal advice about how to proceed in the correct manner as it can be very risky to your own reputation and could even result in legal action being taken against you for slander, if your assumptions have been totally unsubstantiated.

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Last month got caught stealing £30 on cctv out till although admired on record it was over time about £80. Handed my notice is as got suspended, and the loss prevention guy said he was going to head office to update and also police station in my town that afternoon with the cctv footage. It's been a month now and I haven't heard anything. Do you think they will contact me or come arrest me? I have a 3 yr old and no one else to look after him if they do come, tired or sat in worrying, should iccontact the police myself?
Emj - 21-Mar-17 @ 11:14 PM
I got caught on cctv stealing £30 out the till at work, although it has probably been about £80. I admitted it was to pay off my sons nursery and resigned and the loss prevention guy said he would be speaking to head office and taking the cctv footage to the police that afternoon, it has now been a month later and I haven't heard from the police yet. Do you think they will contact me or come and arrest me? I'm a single mum and have no one else to watch my son if they do, and don't want to sit in worrying all the time but he said he was taking it further to the police.
Emj - 21-Mar-17 @ 11:09 PM
I had a phone call from.the bosses sister saying she had a letter for me.it wasn't hand delivered. Accusing me of theft. As when I handed him.some money. I thought that I got it all out of my coat pocket. Didn't realize some money was still in.my.pocket. he reckons he has spoken to a lawyer regarding this. If he had rung me I would have check my pocket
Helen - 20-Mar-17 @ 6:29 AM
Hi.I have been accused of stealing food from the teachers lounge at work.The food was soon to expire and the staff always throws it away.I decided after talking with other workers if it was ok to take home and they said yes because the teachers would throw it away.A month has passed and i was approached by the principal and asked if i took some food. I said yes i did and told her why.Because i was told by the custodian staff that the food would sit there and get thrown out.I am a black person working in an all white school.What do i do?I even told the principal i would pay for what i took even though the food wouldve been thrown out had it been left there.I am just hoping they dont try to fire me over this.If i had known that it was needed later I would never have asked to take it.I asked and was assured that this food was ok to take home because the custodians said they were going to throw it in the trash.I trusted that the custodians who worked over there knew what was going on since the work in this building.
Jay - 19-Mar-17 @ 3:17 PM
I've been suspended from work for theft of chocolate n crisps I've offered to pay the value back and reigned,awaiting a disaplinery meeting will the police be involved thank you
windy - 15-Mar-17 @ 5:02 PM
An work colleague of mine has been accused of stealing from our till at work, there is cctv footage of this apparently. However the manager has been showing this cctv to random customers he knows is this allowed?? He's told my work mate that this has been passed onto the police but I've had 3 customers say only yesterday the manager had the cctv out on his laptop showing them. My work mate wants to go to the police but customers are scared to say that they have seen the footage...
Acaster - 2-Mar-17 @ 3:54 PM
Hi I need some advice a work mate has stolen some money from my bag which was in a locker there is cctv of her going into my locker on 4 occasions over a 2 hour period but have been told she has her back to the camera she has currently been suspended but now she is blackmailing me trying to make me lie by saying I have found the money when I haven't and that I told her she could go in my bag when I never what can I do will the police even have a case please she is also known to the police for stealing
Luckhurst - 1-Mar-17 @ 11:09 PM
How would staff and management identify internal theft in a retail clothes store? With over 160 employees?
K - 1-Mar-17 @ 1:50 PM
Bee - Your Question:
HiI'm looking for some advice on how to further handle a serious situation with a group of employees. I've recently hired 4 evening cleaners to clean my offices. They are paid on an hourly rate and have worked with me for a period of 9 weeks. I have become suspicious of the work load that they claim to have so I e been watching them on th Cctv the past 2 weeks and noticed that the finish times they are lodging on their time sheets are very different to the actual times they finish. The differences range from 30min to almost 2 hours extra per shift of every employee. What are my rights in regards to their final payment. They have all taken upwards of $300 extra per week for the period of employment. I went through all the Cctv and am owing money from these cleaners. Can I widthhold their pay?

Our Response:
I'm afraid as we are a UK-based website, we can only answer questions on UK employment law. You would have to seek some employment law advice in your own country.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 1-Mar-17 @ 10:56 AM
Hi I'm looking for some advice on how to further handle a serious situation with a group of employees. I've recently hired 4 evening cleaners to clean my offices. They are paid on an hourly rate and have worked with me for a period of 9 weeks. I have become suspicious of the work load that they claim to have so I e been watching them on th Cctv the past 2 weeks and noticed that the finish times they are lodging on their time sheets are very different to the actual times they finish. The differences range from 30min to almost 2 hours extra per shift of every employee. What are my rights in regards to their final payment. They have all taken upwards of $300 extra per week for the period of employment. I went through all the Cctv and am owing money from these cleaners. Can I widthhold their pay?
Bee - 28-Feb-17 @ 10:40 AM
Shop owner dilemma - Your Question:
HelloLooking for advice, I've been having some issues with an employee where she seems to think it's acceptable to speak to me in quite an awful manner, being in front of customers most the time I wouldn't cause a scene. I've put it down to stress and what have you but this Saturday it got out of control. I normally allow staff to make lunch and eat it as a perk to the job, as long as it's needing used up or there is plenty for customers first and foremost, however we had a bit of a refurbishment and there was a delay in our delivery meaning we could not provide lunches.It came to lunch time, we had been very busy but never noticed the time and she asked what about lunch, I replied sorry never noticed the time, you go sort yours we will be fine (I pay the lunch break so classed as a working lunch anyway), and she responded with major attitude you expect me to buy it and caused a massive scene in front of customers and other staff. After saying yes I do expect you to go get your own lunch, as you did yesterday, as we cannot provide lunches and you were well aware of this, I then crumbled by giving her money and said fine if it's such a hardship get it with this. Mainly to stop the scene she was making.The next day I came in and she had went bought lunch for her and another member of staff on the account we have with a local shop (so effectively taking money out the till and going getting it). She walked up to me and said I got bread and cheese for lunches hope you don't mind and walked away.So after informing her she had to temporary supply her own lunch she helped herself to my money out the till and went bought some.I know it's sounds really petty, but this isn't the first incident and it's causing a bad atmosphere, I'm really at a loose end on where I stand legally and as a little shop don't have much resources to spend on legal advise.I actually have to hold down another job while having my own just to ensure the wages are paid and this is how I get thanked. Any advise on how to deal with situation and weather this is grounds for dissmisal would be very much appreciated.A desperate independent little shop keeper

Our Response:
You don't say how long your employee has been with you i.e has she passed her probation period? Also, what her contract states about workbreaks and supplying lunches. This is not a 'petty' affair and could be viewed as being quite serious and definitely sounds like this issue needs to be dealt with before it gets out of hand. Both ACAS pages here and here should help. ACAS is also on hand to help you try to navigate such problems without any repercussions. You don't have to seek legal advice and the process is quite straightforward, as long as you keep to the guidelines.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 15-Feb-17 @ 2:49 PM
Hello Looking for advice, I've been having some issues with an employee where she seems to think it's acceptable to speak to me in quite an awful manner, being in front of customers most the time I wouldn't cause a scene.I've put it down to stress and what have you but this Saturday it got out of control. I normally allow staff to make lunch and eat it as a perk to the job, as long as it's needing used up or there is plenty for customers first and foremost, however we had a bit of a refurbishment and there was a delay in our delivery meaning we could not provide lunches. It came to lunch time, we had been very busy but never noticed the time and she asked what about lunch, I replied sorry never noticed the time, you go sort yours we will be fine (I pay the lunch break so classed as a working lunch anyway), and she responded with major attitude you expect me to buy it and caused a massive scene in front of customers and other staff. After saying yes I do expect you to go get your own lunch, as you did yesterday, as we cannot provide lunches and you were well aware of this, I then crumbled by giving her money and said fine if it's such a hardship get it with this.Mainly to stop the scene she was making. The next day I came in and she had went bought lunch for her and another member of staff on the account we have with a local shop (so effectively taking money out the till and going getting it).She walked up to me and said I got bread and cheese for lunches hope you don't mind and walked away. So after informing her she had to temporary supply her own lunch she helped herself to my money out the till and went bought some. I know it's sounds really petty, but this isn't the first incident and it's causing a bad atmosphere, I'm really at a loose end on where I stand legally and as a little shop don't have much resources to spend on legal advise. I actually have to hold down another job while having my own just to ensure the wages are paid and this is how I get thanked. Any advise on how to deal with situation and weather this is grounds for dissmisal would be very much appreciated. A desperate independent little shop keeper
Shop owner dilemma - 13-Feb-17 @ 10:43 PM
@gloves. Your employer would have to know they have enough strong evidence to take the matter to court. I'd get some legal advice if you can. Mitch.
MMM69 - 7-Feb-17 @ 2:20 PM
Hi I have been accused of stealing from my employer I have asked for a copy of the cctv to prove my innocence but they have told me they left it too long to download the footage, I am now being taken to court over this and I would like to know where I stand with situation being their word against mine.
gloves - 5-Feb-17 @ 10:57 PM
i was charged of theft from my company and was terminated. my seatmate claims of losing her perfume. fr the cctv i was seen holding the bag the night before the incident and a day after - the day shes claiming for a lost. but the perfume was there. i hold the bag the 2nd time to ensure myself that it was missing and that i will not be one of the suspects. am with the company 6 yrs, no bad records, regularly and on time in going to work and yet this had happened. nothing was lost as the perfume was there. though i hold the bag 2x but i did not get anything. can it be called "theft"?
rita - 4-Feb-17 @ 3:21 AM
CF - Your Question:
I think my employer thinks that I have been stealing from the pub I work in, but I haven't.A year or so ago they had bad stock issues in the pub and stopped staff from being able to take drinks when customers bought them one. We were still however, able to take cash.With the previous managers (management has changed in the past year)knowledge, if somebody offered to buy me a drink on a card, I would run through the drink, and then when someone later bought the same drink in cash I would take the money. So I am stealing nothing. The drink has been run through the system already so the stock is correct but I am not losing out on my tips, and the till is not down. I have never hidden that this is what I do, and the assistant manager also knows I do this. I have worked in this pub for the past 3 years and would never dream of stealing, but last week they have put me on a till that is directly under the camera and put out word that they know somebody has been stealing and everything indicates that they think it is me, apart from the fact that no manager has actually said anything. I don't know what to do about it. This is a massive pub chain that I work for, and if I get sacked for doing something that I haven't done, it will massively inhibit my career as I will no longer be able to be employed in any one of the hundreds of pubs this company owns.The assistant manager is very 2 faced and is not my biggest fan, and I know that she will deny any knowledge of how I get my tips from cards, if the manager has said that I am stealing.From what I have heard, they are sending the problem to higher up to head office because they think that this is a big problem and that I am cleverly stealing masses from them.To be honest, I am quite happy to leave this pub, but I do not want a black mark over my name or for them to make it so I can never be employed by this huge pub company again. I am thinking of going in to speak to the manager directly this week, but just wondered how strong a case I hold?

Our Response:
You would have to read your contract regarding tips to see what information it contains. Anything that goes against the terms of your contract is going against company rules, regardless whether staff have got away with doing it for years. The issue of your way of obtaining tips is that it can so very easily lead to stock error. Much depends upon the leniency of the management and whether they let it go if they realise that you personally are not stealing. However, it is impossible to predict what they may decide until an investigation is carried out. You don't say whether other staff get their tips this way - which may also help your own case if it is known as common practice.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 31-Jan-17 @ 10:22 AM
I think my employer thinks that I have been stealing from the pub I work in, but I haven't. A year or so ago they had bad stock issues in the pub and stopped staff from being able to take drinks when customers bought them one. We were still however, able to take cash. With the previous managers (management has changed in the past year)knowledge, if somebody offered to buy me a drink on a card, I would run through the drink, and then when someone later bought the same drink in cash I would take the money. So I am stealing nothing. The drink has been run through the system already so the stock is correct but I am not losing out on my tips, and the till is not down. I have never hidden that this is what I do, and the assistant manager also knows I do this. I have worked in this pub for the past 3 years and would never dream of stealing, but last week they have put me on a till that is directly under the camera and put out word that they know somebody has been stealing and everything indicates that they think it is me, apart from the fact that no manager has actually said anything. I don't know what to do about it. This is a massive pub chain that I work for, and if I get sacked for doing something that I haven't done, it will massively inhibit my career as I will no longer be able to be employed in any one of the hundreds of pubs this company owns. The assistant manager is very 2 faced and is not my biggest fan, and I know that she will deny any knowledge of how I get my tips from cards, if the manager has said that I am stealing. From what I have heard, they are sending the problem to higher up to head office because they think that this is a big problem and that I am cleverly stealing masses from them. To be honest, I am quite happy to leave this pub, but I do not want a black mark over my name or for them to make it so I can never be employed by this huge pub company again. I am thinking of going in to speak to the manager directly this week, but just wondered how strong a case I hold?
CF - 30-Jan-17 @ 10:02 AM
I have a situation where I employ a mother, as my manager, and her daughter as my assistant.I live a fair distance away and it is the empires duties to collect fees and deposit.This business is daycare, so employees have constant contact with parents. I started noticing that parent fees were not being received, according to employees.When employees were questioned, I got a run around or that they had not seem parents.I informed staff that a third party, because of my absence was coming in to go over documents involving parent fees. I then received a response, from my manager, of her refusal to work and in that response was an admission of stealing from her daughter. I am firing the daughter with due cause.But what I want to know is if I have a right to fire the mother as well.The letter is also verbally abusive and threatening towards myself. As well, the two ladies have been contacting parents informing them that my centre will be closed. I need help in what I'm allowed to do as an employer
Yvonne - 15-Jan-17 @ 4:23 PM
I have had something stolen from my workplace by another employee. The room is secure and has key pad entry, no members of the public could possibly gain access, so it must have been an employee. What can I do? My employer is currently not accepting responsibility and it is uncomfortable to think that someone is getting away with this and might steal again.
Omr - 11-Jan-17 @ 11:20 AM
feli - Your Question:
There is an investigation going on in my office and there are clear evidence that the person stole money. can the person resign before investigation is concluded

Our Response:
The person can resign. However, the investigation should still continue.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 21-Dec-16 @ 1:56 PM
there is an investigation going on in my office and there are clear evidence that the person stole money. can the person resign before investigation is concluded
feli - 21-Dec-16 @ 4:23 AM
Helpme - Your Question:
Please help I caught a person "attempting" to steal from my store, I took the good they tried stealing and put them out back but once I tried calling security the line was busy so the call couldn't conecct. I then decided to take the goods to security so they could make a record of what was almost stolen as that's what I was taught and thought I had to do. I then went to walk out of the store but forgot to do a check, so I walked back in with my bags and the "attempted" stolen item. Which was when one of the LP managers came in and asked to see my bags which I showed him, then he proceeded to ask about the other which I said where not mine and explained I was taking them to security. Basically he accused me of stealing and put words into my mouth, I have a formal meeting with him soon. I just want to know can I make a complaint in the way he handled things I was basically bullied into him assuming I was stealing when in fact if he waited or followed me he'd notice I was taking them to security. Advice needed please.

Our Response:
I imagine any CCTV footage taken will back-up your actions and claims. However, you may have to explain why you were taking the items to security when they had effectively 'not' been stolen in the first place ( i.e you can only charge a person with stealing, or give a valid report, when the suspect has left the building with the item (s)). At the hearing your employer will explain the complaint against you, go through the evidence and also give you a chance to tell your side of the story and make a counter-complaint. You have the right to take someone with you to a disciplinary hearing, but you must tell your employer about this first, please see gov.uk link here for additional advice.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 29-Nov-16 @ 3:09 PM
Please help I caught a person "attempting" to steal from my store, I took the good they tried stealing and put them out back but once I tried calling security the line was busy so the call couldn't conecct. I then decided to take the goods to security so they could make a record of what was almost stolen as that's what I was taught and thought I had to do. I then went to walk out of the store but forgot to do a check, so I walked back in with my bags and the "attempted" stolen item. Which was when one of the LP managers came in and asked to see my bags which I showed him, then he proceeded to ask about the other which I said where not mine and explained I was taking them to security. Basically he accused me of stealing and put words into my mouth, I have a formal meeting with him soon. I just want to know can I make a complaint in the way he handled things I was basically bullied into him assuming I was stealing when in fact if he waited or followed me he'd notice I was taking them to security. Advice needed please.
Helpme - 29-Nov-16 @ 12:32 PM
I am suspended at work for stealing colleague phone according to the camera my side of story is that I saw a phone at unsafe area and I took it so that I can give it to the manager as I am machandiser the new stock arrived and I focus on stock end up forgetting the phone in my pocket as it was small phone and I realize that I have phone when am at home the following day I took my phone with me to give manager when I arrive at workI found out that the owner of the phone has reported the loss of phone and the manager show me footage of me talking the phone and ask if I hve phone and I took the phone and give it to owner my employer the person am working under as machandiser said I must write resignation letter or write a statement that I have stolen the phone or I will the job as an independent young man i didn't want to lose my job and I end writing the statement of stealing and am going to diplinary hearing what must I doon disciplinary to save my job
king - 25-Nov-16 @ 4:29 AM
Employer demanding more money then was taken or charges will be pressed ????
angie - 24-Nov-16 @ 3:24 AM
Akz - Your Question:
Hi,I need help I have been suspended today from work alongside 3 other employees for stealing £12000 of cash on random days not all in one go. I have had an interview with my manager today and her attitude towards me is rude she is making out that I stole the money which I haven't done. I have been working here for almost 4 years and her attitude towards me was not good and the CCTV only shows me doing cash counting at the end of the night no evidence of me stealing it or it else would be on CCTV if that was the case. She made out on CCTV it was me only there so it was me doing the stealing how though. I have been doing this job for 4 years and why would I want to steal?Please help what my next step will be?

Our Response:
Often disciplinary procedures will contain a provision enabling the employer to suspend an individual, while an investigation takes place into allegations of misconduct. You can see what you should do next via the WorkSmart link here.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 10-Nov-16 @ 11:11 AM
Hi, I need help I have been suspended today from work alongside 3 other employees for stealing £12000 of cash on random days not all in one go. I have had an interview with my manager today and her attitude towards me is rude she is making out that I stole the money which I haven't done. I have been working here for almost 4 years and her attitude towards me was not good and the CCTV only shows me doing cash counting at the end of the night no evidence of me stealing it or it else would be on CCTV if that was the case. She made out on CCTV it was me only there so it was me doing the stealing how though. I have been doing this job for 4 years and why would i want to steal? Please help what my next step will be?
Akz - 9-Nov-16 @ 2:54 PM
If a member of the public gained access to a secure building and then stole personal belongings are the employers liable for the loss of their staffs items. She gained access by asking staff to let her in although she had no identification on her. She gained access via employee entrance which is secure. She has been identified and reported to the police. Should the staff make a claim on their personal house insurance or works.
Jones - 2-Nov-16 @ 10:36 PM
anon - Your Question:
I Own my own small shop, I have one person in there at all times on his own, my books do not add up, I am almost certain that he is selling stock and pocketing the cash without putting it through the till or books. I have now started secretly doing 100% stock checks daily to see if he is. He is the only person working there so there is no other suspicions, I worked out that last week approx £110 of stock was missing and unaccounted for. I will know for certain this Friday as to the extent of the thefts and will have a daily break down of the missing inventory. It is my intention to approach him Friday at work end (whilst voice recording the conversation) to show him my proof and ask him out right if he can explain the missing and unaccounted inventory?Whether he confesses or not, with my evidence, am I within my rights to sack him on the spot for gross misconduct, also; he is paid by bank BACS Fridays, am I entitled to stop his weekly wages due to the theft?If he does confess to me as he is a family friend also (further complicates) will my voice recording of our conversation count as he will not be aware that it is being recorded and IF I am right, I will be reporting this to the police.Help and advice ASAP would be greatly appreciated please.

Our Response:
As always dismissing an employee is always a difficult situation, but one that needs to be carried out carefully, please see ACAS article here. Likewise, you may wish to contact ACAS directly, so you are fully aware of the procedure you have to take when making your accusations and what can be used in evidence. We cannot advise personally here, due to the many variables.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 25-Oct-16 @ 11:28 AM
I Own my own small shop, I have one person in there at all times on his own, my books do not add up, I am almost certain that he is selling stock and pocketing the cash without putting it through the till or books.I have now started secretly doing 100% stock checks daily to see if he is. He is the only person working there so there is no other suspicions, I worked out that last week approx £110 of stock was missing and unaccounted for.I will know for certain this Friday as to the extent of the thefts and will have a daily break down of the missing inventory. It is my intention to approach him Friday at work end (whilst voice recording the conversation) to show him my proof and ask him out right if he can explain the missing and unaccounted inventory? Whether he confesses or not, with my evidence, am I within my rights to sack him on the spot for gross misconduct, also; he is paid by bank BACS Fridays, am I entitled to stop his weekly wages due to the theft? If he does confess to me as he is a family friend also (further complicates) will my voice recording of our conversation count as he will not be aware that it is being recorded and IF I am right, I will be reporting this to the police. Help and advice ASAP would be greatly appreciated please.
anon - 24-Oct-16 @ 11:53 AM
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