John Mehtam, our Employment Law Specialist,said: “Tough economic times lead people to resort to all kinds of desperate measures. Last year employees were convicted of frauds totalling £300 million, and with the credit crunch biting, many more may be tempted to try to cheat their employer.
“Many employees with previously spotless characters may resort to drastic tactics when under pressure, and it’s important to spot the early warning signs. Is someone behaving oddly? Have they started to come in extremely early, or stay very late?
"If so, ask them why.There could be a reasonable explanation, maybe they’ve got an excessive workload or they’re unhappy at home. But it’s also possible they could be waiting for everyone else to leave so they can get at the petty cash.”
John said it was important to carry out regular audits on any cash held on the premises, and if large amounts need to be paid out, make sure two people authorise it.
“Look for an employee who may be making unusually excessive purchases, or who is going to expensive restaurants more regularly, or taking more foreign holidays than usual. If it doesn’t fit with their salary, then something’s not right. Of course, there could be a simple explanation, perhaps they’re spending an inheritance, but it’s also possible the money is coming from your business account."