Overview: Dealing with property theft is part of a good risk management plan. Even small, seemingly harmless theft of property can become significant financial loss over time and across the entire employee population. So, while taking small office supplies, such as post-its, once in a while might not seem like a big deal to an employee, it becomes one when multiplied by the life of an individual's employment and the number of employees performing the action. Add this to bigger, more deliberate thefts of which employers often find themselves victim and it is easy to see the necessity of guarding against all property theft within the workplace.
One of the first things that an employer should do is to create a clear policy defining theft in your workplace and the punishment for it. Clearly communicating this can be a deterrent in and of itself. There are many other physical and work securities that employers can implement to make stealing harder, such as giving limited access to commonly stolen items and creating checks and balances systems. One simple way to avoid theft is to make employees feel valued and appreciated because employees that feel this way are less likely to steal from the workplace.
When it comes to guarding against property theft, it is important to comply with a number of laws. For example, before setting up a video surveillance system, it is important to know any state privacy laws that could affect having such a system.
Trends: Unfortunately, drug addiction is always a trend. At pharmaceutical companies and other similar businesses, theft of pharmaceuticals may be a major problem because workers want the drugs. The Controlled Substance Act has many required security measures that employers who have these drugs must follow.
Author: Ashley Shaw, JD, Legal Editor
Updated to refect the Defend Trade Secrets Act, effective May 11, 2016.
This resource is under review in light of the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act, effective May 11, 2016.
Updated to reflect forthcoming discipline concerns under the Workplace Privacy Act.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Arkansas employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to employee discipline.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Colorado employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to employee discipline.
California employers seeking to ensure that employees know that they should not improperly use or disclose certain confidential information and the potential ramifications of doing so should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
California employers seeking to advise employees of their responsibility to return company property when separating from employment should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
In-depth review of the spectrum of New Hampshire employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to employee discipline.
Retail employers witness a growth in employee theft during the holiday season as employees' financial pressures increase and temporary employees, who have less to lose if caught, make up a large part of the workforce. Employers should be aware of this growing trend and take steps to eliminate it from their workplaces.
Employers seeking to notify employees of employer monitoring, measures to protect employee privacy and the strict prohibition against unauthorized or improper use of video surveillance footage should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.