Suspected abuse of the sick system

Discussion in 'Employment & HR' started by vil_guy, Oct 21, 2019.

  1. vil_guy

    vil_guy UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    10 0
    Hi everyone, I would really welcome some help with regards an HR issue we are having.

    We are a small coffee shop in Scotland (in case that makes any difference?) and have been open for 1.5 years.

    We have had issues with a member of staff that has been off due to "stress" during school holiday periods, and when her hobby season is in effect.

    Now this member of staff normally contracts for 16 hours and just meets the guidelines for sick pay, however because of the number of times she has been off, she fell out of the minimum requirements and so hasn't been receiving it. Now that this has occurred, she miraculously wants to return to work. She has been signed off with, I forget the exact term, but basically unidentified stress, without going to see psychologists etc but just at the doctors, and even the doctors note says that there is nothing particularly wrong with her. The sick note also appears to have been backdated, as she sent a phone message saying she had just been to the doctors, but the date on the note was 1 week previous. She had also previously stated that stress doesn't exist, and its all made up etc. Previous sign offs have also been non descript.

    This has been occurring for the past 5 months now, with the staff member bombarding my wife (who runs the business) with abusive messages on facebook then deleting them shortly after. Fortunately we have screen grabs of this. We have invited her to discuss it at meetings etc and she has failed to turn up on multiple occasions.

    Additionally, the staff member took money from the tips jar (she was the manager of the tips system) supposedly for another member of staff who left to have a baby. The amount missing is £170. However that ex member of staff has never received it. Im not quite sure how to deal with that.... but that's perhaps a separate issue?

    We have engaged with a stand alone HR company who are providing their services but I would also welcome any other advice?

    In addition, we have changed the opening hours of the business so it now closes on a Monday, this was one of the staff members days of work. There are no hours available elsewhere for her to move onto. A revised contract was issued for her to agree too, but she hasn't responded too it.

    My wife has been told this staff member has to be allowed to return to work, but I do not want this person working here anymore. I feel I cannot trust them at all. My wife thinks she could be put at the front of shop so she would be on camera but I feel that this staff member could sink business if she is rude to a customer, and I do not want them handling money. Im also scared that if she was in the kitchen she could produce poor quality food, or purposefully cause food poisoning etc.

    I know that sounds a bit over the top but we really are in that point of the working relationship where there is ZERO trust. The staff member has even started involving our children in it.

    I'm desperate to find a way out of this. Its causing severe stress to my wife and she is scared to go to school to pick up my daughter in case "she" is there because of all this.

    Any advice would be most welcome.

    Paul
     
    Posted: Oct 21, 2019 By: vil_guy Member since: Oct 21, 2019
    #1
  2. Newchodge

    Newchodge UKBF Big Shot Free Member

    14,514 3,899
    Why?

    If she has only been sick for 5 months she cannot have fallen out of SSP - that lasts for 28 weeks.

    If she has only been employed by the business for 1.5 years just sack her. If you inherited her along when you took over a business and hse has been employed for 2 years or more you need to start the disciplinary process, although you should have started that months ago.

    Give her a deadline for repaying the £170 after which you will report her to the police for theft and start court action for recovery of the money.

    If your standalone HR advisor has not already given you this adviuce, that may be a reason why you are on here and may also be a reason to find someone else.

    By whom and for what reason?
     
    Posted: Oct 21, 2019 By: Newchodge Member since: Nov 8, 2012
    #2
  3. Bushman

    Bushman UKBF Regular Free Member

    173 32
    Theft is theft. You don't need to mess about with all the other issues, just sack them for theft.
     
    Posted: Oct 21, 2019 By: Bushman Member since: Nov 17, 2015
    #3
  4. vil_guy

    vil_guy UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    10 0
    Hi Cyndy

    I don't understand how it works to be honest, we put the information into the govern SSP system to check and it says she is not entitled to it. This has been confirmed by HMRC who got in contact with us regarding the case.

    My wife has been cautious of "just sacking her" within the 1.5 year timeframe because of the whole sickness thing? She is paranoid its going to come back and bite her. Believe me, I never want to see this staff member again, but im just the bank roller as it were. The business is my wifes. This HR company is being extremely cautious in my opinion.

    Regarding the money, I presume it should be formally submitted via a letter about the outstanding money and then demanding it be repaid etc. Being a very small community here it causes nothing but grief with everyone knowing one another and this staff member "was" a close friend. The person whom she has not delivered this money too is also a friend. Very awkward.

    It was the HR company who has advised that she needs to be allowed to return to work. I need to speak to my wife this evening and hopefully she can get on here and be a bit more informative.

    I appreciate the candid assistance by the way.

    Regards

    Paul
     
    Posted: Oct 21, 2019 By: vil_guy Member since: Oct 21, 2019
    #4
  5. vil_guy

    vil_guy UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    10 0
    See I was a bit unsure about that, as its the "tips". These are kept in the safe along with all the other money, and its recorded everyday. She was the only other member of staff that had a safe key.

    And yes.... we have changed the safe since!
     
    Posted: Oct 21, 2019 By: vil_guy Member since: Oct 21, 2019
    #5
  6. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend Free Member

    24,887 3,035
    Alleged theft.
     
    Posted: Oct 21, 2019 By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017
    #6
  7. Newchodge

    Newchodge UKBF Big Shot Free Member

    14,514 3,899
    If she has less than 2 years you can sack her for no reason. Just give her notice pay, outstanding holiday pay and say goodbye.

    You can sack her for dishonesty, but to do this you would need to carry out a full investigation and disciplinary process, she would normally be suspended on full pay while you did this.

    If you are dismissing her for a reason connected to a protected personal characteristic, for example sickness absence because she is pregnant, you would lose a discrimination claim. But your description shows no sign of a protected characteristic. I assume your advisor is worrried about disability discrimination. I think they are wrong.
     
    Posted: Oct 21, 2019 By: Newchodge Member since: Nov 8, 2012
    #7
  8. Newchodge

    Newchodge UKBF Big Shot Free Member

    14,514 3,899
    These 2 statements don't quite stack up:

    Either she took the money for another member of staff or you don't know whether she took it.

    In an investigation you would have to ask her if she took it and why, or if she has already stated that she took it for the other staff member you would have to ask her why it wasn't handed over.

    This kind of investigation is quite straightforward if you know what you are doing and terrifying if you are inexperienced.
     
    Posted: Oct 21, 2019 By: Newchodge Member since: Nov 8, 2012
    #8
  9. Newchodge

    Newchodge UKBF Big Shot Free Member

    14,514 3,899
    SSP. She has to have earned the minimum amount on average over the 8 weeks (a week being Sunday to Saturday) prior to her first day of absence. She is then entitled for that absence and any further absence that lasts at least 4 calendar days and the first day of which starts within 56 days (8 weeks) of the last day of her previous absence. You only re-calculate her entitlement if she is back at work for 8 weeks between absences.
     
    Posted: Oct 21, 2019 By: Newchodge Member since: Nov 8, 2012
    #9
  10. vil_guy

    vil_guy UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    10 0
    Apologies,

    She has taken it (as no other member of staff had access to the safe) and a comment was received from another member of staff that she had taken it to give the tips to this other member of staff who had left due to having a baby. That ex member of staff came in the other day and stated she hasn't received this money. Now that person is honest to a fault, to the point where people have taken advantage of her in the past. We could possibly get a written statement from her.

    I think you are correct in that its quite worrying when you are inexperienced. I am trying to help my wife where I can but I think I can put my foot in it at times.

    Cheers

    Paul
     
    Posted: Oct 21, 2019 By: vil_guy Member since: Oct 21, 2019
    #10
  11. vil_guy

    vil_guy UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    10 0
    This is what we have done.



    We actually paid her SP in some previous time off when she wasn't actually entitled to it.
     
    Posted: Oct 21, 2019 By: vil_guy Member since: Oct 21, 2019
    #11
  12. vil_guy

    vil_guy UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    10 0
    I think the less than 2 years thing is probably the way to go and would seemingly avoid all the hassle of investigation etc.

    I don't really care about the money in "paying her off" as its just causing my wife so much stress I want it dealt with. If you get my drift.
     
    Posted: Oct 21, 2019 By: vil_guy Member since: Oct 21, 2019
    #12
  13. Gordon - Commercial Finance

    Gordon - Commercial Finance UKBF Ace Free Member

    2,492 857
    If you do go down the route of sacking her as she's less than 2 years in (which you definitely should), just make sure you don't mention anything about the stolen money, the sickness, or anything. Without reason, just simply tell her its not working out, goodbye.
     
    Posted: Oct 21, 2019 By: Gordon - Commercial Finance Member since: Jun 26, 2017
    #13
  14. vil_guy

    vil_guy UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    10 0
    yes that's what im very conscious of.
     
    Posted: Oct 21, 2019 By: vil_guy Member since: Oct 21, 2019
    #14
  15. Newchodge

    Newchodge UKBF Big Shot Free Member

    14,514 3,899
    I am afraid I don't agree with that. If you have a valid reason, you should give it.

    I would mention her unacceptable attendance record and her totally unacceptable facebook abuse. I would also tell her that, if she were to return you would have to carry out an investigation into the missing money.

    If she tries to claim discrimination it looks bad if you gave her no reason at the time of dismissal.

    Sickness absence is a valid reason, as long as it is not related to a disability, or, if it is, that there was no reasonable adjustment you could make to allow her to continue in employment.

    The fact that she has not mentioned any form of disability (stress is neither a disability nor an illness it is a potential cause of an illness, but you have no diagnosis of an illness) helps your case.
     
    Posted: Oct 21, 2019 By: Newchodge Member since: Nov 8, 2012
    #15
  16. Gordon - Commercial Finance

    Gordon - Commercial Finance UKBF Ace Free Member

    2,492 857
    Fair enough - I was just thinking in terms of peace of mind as they’re clearly worried about possibility cases being brought. However Cyndy knows far more about it than I do!
     
    Posted: Oct 21, 2019 By: Gordon - Commercial Finance Member since: Jun 26, 2017
    #16
  17. vil_guy

    vil_guy UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    10 0
    Thanks for your help everyone. I will talk to my wife tonight. Cheers.
     
    Posted: Oct 21, 2019 By: vil_guy Member since: Oct 21, 2019
    #17
  18. Lucan Unlordly

    Lucan Unlordly UKBF Ace Free Member

    1,685 300
    The supermarket manager once set up a sting operation to catch a department supervisor who was suspected of stealing money from the till floats. I was deputy manager. We crouched behind the deli hoping to catch the thief in action. The culprit? The manager!!!!

    Not really relevant to your situation other than to ask why this clearly irresponsible and disrespectful member of staff had keys to the safe?
     
    Posted: Oct 21, 2019 By: Lucan Unlordly Member since: Feb 24, 2009
    #18
  19. vil_guy

    vil_guy UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    10 0
    At the time, they weren't irresponsible and disrespectful. Its all kicked off since they have been off.

    Apologies as well, it is "anxiety" that they are apparently suffering with . (I had to check last night). Though the sick from the doctors states there is no evidence of this.

    Anyway, looks like we want to go down the less than 2 years thing.

    Cheers
     
    Posted: Oct 22, 2019 By: vil_guy Member since: Oct 21, 2019
    #19
  20. Chris Ashdown

    Chris Ashdown UKBF Legend Free Member

    11,931 2,486
    Dont forget you need to pay them the notice period and also any holiday pay earnt up to the last day of notice, just tell them they do not have to work the notice period

    Please tell me you have not employed Peninsular as your employment advisors
     
    Posted: Oct 22, 2019 By: Chris Ashdown Member since: Dec 7, 2003
    #20