If you’ve been accused of a theft at work then you face 2 risks: the possibility of going to jail and the possibility of losing your job. This will obviously therefore be a stressful time for you. Most employees are aware that their employer is prohibited form unfairly dismissing them but may be unaware of precise mechanics of when and how they can be dismissed if they’ve been accused of theft. This post will therefore attempt to address the issue of what your rights at work are relating to dismissal if you’ve been arrested and when your employer can dismiss you fairly for allegations of theft at work. It’ll also look at how you can potentially submit an unfair dismissal claim. In doing so we’ll look at the following:
- Your right not to be unfairly dismissed
- Can you be dismissed as a result of allegations of theft at work?
- What you should do if you’ve been dismissed at work as a result of allegations of theft
Your right not to be unfairly dismissed
Under s.94 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (“ERA 96”) you have the right not to be unfairly dismissed from your employment (if you are an employee and have more than one year’s continuous service, which rose to 2 years if you commenced employment from 6 April 2012). If you are dismissed then under s.98 of the ERA 96 your employer must give a potentially fair reason for your dismissal, the reasons being:
- Your conduct
- Your capacity
- Some Other Substantial Reason
Allegations of theft at work would fall under the potentially fair reason of conduct. Your employer will therefore normally be able to demonstrate that there was a potentially fair reason for your dismissal. However, your employer will also have to show that:
- Your dismissal was procedurally fair – a fair procedure was carried out in dismissing you
- Your dismissal was substantively fair – the decision to dismiss you was reasonable in the circumstances
If your dismissal is found to have been either procedurally or substantively unfair then you may succeed in your unfair dismissal claim.
Can you be dismissed as a result of allegations of theft at work?
The short answer to this question is “yes” – you can be dismissed but, as ever, the real issue is whether the dismissal is fair. In order for your dismissal to be fair your employer must have considered (among other things):
- The nature of your duties at your employer – e.g. do you handle valuable items or information on a regular basis?
- The position that you have at your employer – e.g. are you in a position of trust at your employer?
- The nature of the alleged theft that occurred – e.g. was it an allegation of minor theft (i.e. stealing £5) or a less trivial theft?
- Your past record at your employer – do you have an unblemished record or have you been accused of theft before?
- Whether the allegation of theft has damaged mutual trust and confidence between yourself and your employer
If your employer makes the decision to dismiss you because of an allegation of theft at work then, among other things, they should have conducted a fair and impartial investigation and disciplinary hearing and have made a fair, impartial and genuine decision that you may be guilty of the allegations, with it being reasonable to dismiss you on the basis of this.
What you should do if you’ve been dismissed at work as a result of allegations of theft
If you’ve been dismissed from your employment because of an allegation of theft then you should take the following action:
- Submit an appeal to your employer
- Submit a grievance to your employer (if necessary)
- Speak to your Trade Union official (if you have one)
- Get some advice from a specialist employment solicitor
- Submit a claim for unfair dismissal to the Employment Tribunal
Submit an appeal to your employer
You should be given the option to appeal your dismissal by your employer. If you haven’t then you may have been unfairly dismissed as a result. If you have been given the option submit a disciplinary appeal letter to your employer then you should do so within the given time frame. You can use the disciplinary appeal letter template below if you wish:
Submit a grievance to your employer
If you think that there have been elements of unfairness in the disciplinary process then you may wish to submit a grievance to your employer on this point as well. You can use the grievance letter template below to do so if you wish:
Speak to your Trade Union official
If you’re a member of a Trade Union then go and see your local official. Explain what’s happened to him and see if they can help you.
Get some advice from a specialist employment solicitor
Get some employment law advice from a specialist employment solicitor. A lot of law firms undertake a free employment law consultation and you can gather valuable evidence on the nature and strength of your claim from this.
Submit a claim for unfair dismissal to the Employment Tribunal
Before the limitation date (3 months less 1 day from the date of your dismissal in simple unfair dismissal claims) to the Employment Tribunal using the necessary ET1 form. You can use the ET1 form example provided below:
You can click on this link to learn how to submit a claim for unfair dismissal to the Employment Tribunal.
Direct 2 Lawyers offer free employment law advice for employers and free employment law advice for employees. The specialist employment lawyers they use offer employment law advice and compromise agreement advice