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March 20 HR News

Employees Who Steal Can Be Prosecuted

One news item this week relates to an employee who stole almost $400000 from her employer and who has been sentenced to just under 3 years in gaol.
The article from HC Online is here

Why is this in the weekly wrap up? It seems that a lot of employers are reluctant to prosecute for theft thinking that it will be too time and resource consuming. (The old saying that lawyers are the only ones to win from legal battles comes to mind)

However there are more significant and wide ranging reasons to support taking action in these cases.

1. There is a possibility of recovering at least some of the money if the police are involved. In this case a car purchased with stolen funds was seized, and I presume sold to recover some of the funds

2. Insights are gained through an external investigation of precisely how it happened and how it can be prevented in the future. Recommendations about ensuring that more than one person is invoked in payroll processing (or seek to outsource it) are a good example.

3. Taking specific action to terminate employment and seeking legal action ensures that the employee cannot go on to to the same thing with another employer.
This may sound harsh, yet imaging yourself in the shoes of a hiring manager. You receive an application from someone who has good experience. Their past boss is not listed as a referee due to what the individual says are personal issues – or perhaps the person cited as a referee from the past employer isn’t who they say they are (it may be a friend)
If you choose to hire that person and later find out about their history your options to act are limited. Acting on hearsay is defamation. Terminating without reasonable cause is unfair dismissal.

For many reasons internal and external, when an employee is proven to have done the wrong thing, appropriate action must be taken.

Heat Of The Moment Resignations

Interestingly this week SmartCompany shared an article about a case where a resignation given in the heat of the moment was upheld by Fair Work – these usually are not upheld.

In most cases a heat of the moment resignation is not accepted as:
– most of us are not “reasonable” when emotional and that is taken into consideration
– a resignation is a significant decision, one that typically takes time and effort. Therefore a decision not taken lightly seems unlikely to be given “off the cuff”

This case was different for a few significant reasons.
1. The subsequent behaviour of the employee (not returning to work and taking belongings home) was considered to be consistent with the resignation being lodged

2. A witness to the exchange/meeting gave evidence that supported the employer.

3. The employee had time to withdraw the resignation but did not do so
This is an interesting case as it is not consistent with usual case law principles (which you will find outlined in the article) and also that the “time to withdraw” included a weekend.

It seems odd to expect an employee to contact an employer over a weekend to rescind a resignation. If I were an employer int his situation, that would not be what I would rely on.

An interesting case that supports the need for good process and good communication.

Be Glad You Aren’t Recruiting In Japan

The final snippet this week is about recruitment (a key topic at the moment) and comes from HC Online

Japan is experiencing some economic growth after low birth rates and it has resulted in low unemployment and unusual rations of vacancies to applicants.

Large employers are doing better than small companies to attract candidates, yet they also need to be on the ball when it comes to branding and marketing themselves.

While we have a very different situation in Australia there are some lessons to be learned
1. If all applicants “look the same” (perhaps with skills and experience) how do you differentiate and make sure that you bring the right person/people into your company

2. When there are many choices for applicants, how do you make your company and the role stand out? Without telling any lies?
It is critical for you to be crystal clear on what is required in a role and the person to fill it, as well as connecting that to your future and growth.

3. In competitive markets, you want to make the right recruitment decisions. You also want to make the right promotion decisions as poor quality promotion decisions can lead to resignations by other staff which puts you back on the market sooner than you would expect.

Whenever you need to recruit there is a process much broader than the interviews that needs to be considered.

Concentrate on what the role really contributes to the team and the company.

Review and reflect on how it has been delivered in the past and be open to making a change to that. (ie if the role was part time, does it now need to be full time)

Investigate why the vacancy has occurred (resignation, new role, [promotion) and note if anything needs to be done differently.

Think ahead and consider who are the key connection and interaction points – a good fit is about skills as well as style.

Remember that advice is available to you if you need it.