Dishonesty in the workplace

Any policy recommending action in case of theft or other misappropriation involves a number of agencies and offices:

  • The Director of Finance, who is accountable for the University's financial resources and the Insurance Officer, who is responsible for insurance matters
  • The Director of Human Resources who is responsible for advising Heads of Department on the appropriate disciplinary procedures
  • The Security Adviser, who is responsible for advising Heads of Department on security matters and, where appropriate, liaison with the police

The appropriate officer in each of these sections should be consulted in connection with suspicions of dishonesty. In addition to the definitions of dishonesty mentioned below in connection with disciplinary procedures, attention is drawn to the ethical policy set out in paragraph 2.1 of the University's Financial Regulations. This policy goes beyond clear cases of theft, fraud, etc. to state that “University employees should never use their authority or office for personal gain … ” and that “All members of staff of the University have a general responsibility for the security of the University's property, for avoiding loss and being economic in the use of resource. They must comply with the approved systems of financial control.”

Actions in the event of incidents

1 Reporting

Any incident should be reported to the Security Adviser, and any incident involving more than a minor loss should be reported to the police. The Security Adviser will inform the Principal Officers through the Secretary General of all cases involving dishonesty perpetrated by members of staff in the University. He will also inform the Director of Finance, the Insurance Officer and the appropriate officer in the Human Resources Division.

2 Police involvement

The police are likely to investigate only some of the incidents reported to them, although all reported incidents will be recorded.

3 Insurance

Under the Buildings and Contents policy, fraud and dishonesty of employees is excluded, except in the case of loss of money (a limited amount), provided such an incident is discovered and reported within 7 days. Therefore it is vital that any incidents involving loss of money are reported to the Insurance Officer immediately so that the University's insurers can be informed.

4 Immediate action

Where there is clear evidence identifying the perpetrator of a theft, the Head of Department after consultation with the appropriate officer in the Human Resources Division and the Security Adviser will be able to take immediate action; where there is a loss but the perpetrator is not immediately identifiable, the first step will be to ask the Security Adviser for assistance in attempting to identify a perpetrator.

5 Disciplinary action

Theft, forgery and misappropriation are clearly identified in the Assistant Staff Handbook and in the disciplinary procedures for unestablished academic and related staff as categories of serious misconduct. Statute U which relates to holders of established offices is less specific but mentions “conduct of an immoral, scandalous, or disgraceful nature incompatible with the duties of the office or employment” in the context of ‘good cause’ for potential dismissal. Any individual who is suspected of dishonesty in any of these areas should be suspended on full pay, following consultation with the appropriate officer in the Human Resources Division. (Authority to suspend rests with the Vice-Chancellor for established University officers and with the Head of Department for other staff groups). An investigation must then be carried out and, on the basis of the outcome of the investigation, a formal disciplinary hearing convened as soon as possible.

More detailed information on disciplinary procedures is to be found in Statute U (for established academic and related staff), Statement of the University's policies and procedures relating to disciplinary action, grievances and appeals in respect of unestablished academic and academic-related staff', and in the Assistant Staff Manual which includes copies of the Assistant Staff Handbook and Regulations Governing Employment by the University and Rules.

6 Police involvement

There may be situations in which a police investigation may make it impossible to undertake disciplinary action without a long delay; where this is the case it is important to keep the individual informed of his/her situation and to explain why the suspension is likely to be lengthy.

7 Dissemination of information

Wherever it is feasible, disciplinary matters should be treated in total confidence. If, however, there is a likelihood of misinformation via the grapevine (e.g. if an individual is arrested by the police in the workplace) it may be necessary to counter this by, for instance, emphasising that arrest does not imply proven guilt. Before taking this step the Human Resources Division and the Security Adviser should be consulted.