Thumbs Down to Damaging Company Property

October 28, 2016

It has recently come to light that a waiter working at the British Museum accidentally knocked the thumb off a priceless Roman sculpture in December last year, according to The Art Newspaper.

Townley Venus

The waiter, who was from an external company, had bent down underneath the Townley Venus and as he stood up, bumped the statue’s right hand knocking the thumb clean off.  Luckily the thumb fell to the floor intact and the statue was able to be restored.

What do you do if an employee damages company property?

We get a lot of calls from clients asking for advice when an employee has damaged property; “Can I discipline them?” “Can I charge them for the damage?” “Can I sack them?”

The answer may be yes depending on the circumstances.  Our Consultants would advise the following:

  • Try to stay calm when investigating, don’t make accusations
  • Establish the facts as much as possible, and as quickly as possible. Assess the damage, take pictures, speak to the employee/s involved, to witnesses and check CCTV if available
  • Check the employee’s contract, the employee handbook and any other documentation which may refer to damage to company property
  • There must be a definite clause in the employment contract to be able to lawfully make deductions from an employee’s pay and this should not be done before a thorough investigation has taken place
  • If the contract allows for deductions to be made, these must be reasonable. For example, if you are able to make a claim through an insurance policy, it would be reasonable to only recover the value of the insurance excess from the employee
  • You may need to look at a repayment plan if the deduction in full would cause financial hardship to the employee
  • Follow the disciplinary process. In serious cases dismissal may be an option. Remember that if you do not commence disciplinary proceedings on a first occasion, it may be difficult to dismiss if damage occurs again in the future

Check your employment documents – If they do not have any reference to damage to company property or deductions from wages, we can HELP you with this.

We provide outsourced HR and Employment Law advice to businesses, from producing bespoke employment documentation to advising and guiding managers through HR issues, right through to employment tribunal representation.  As a client of HELP you are allocated your own commercially aware consultant who quickly gets to know you and your business.  We do not tie you into long term contracts so if at any point the service is no longer suitable to your business, you are free to leave at any time.

Why not give us a call today on 01543 431 050 to discuss how we can HELP you?

Author – Hattie Sketchley-Bates, HR & Training Consultant


This post is in: Employment Law Blogs, Featured, General, Honest Employment Law Practice

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