Research indicates that of the total employees in the average Organisation, 25% are honest and another 25% are dishonest. The remaining 50% are said to be as honest or dishonest as the procedures of their employer will let them be. Adequate procedures and regular policing of such procedures are essential to minimise theft.


Procedures which impinge on honesty must be adhered to strictly. Once the rule has been breached and is known to have been breached its effectiveness may be at an end.

Wherever there is doubt or uncertainty, the situation can be exploited. organisations should consider implementing a chart such as is shown in THEFT, delineating who has authority to authorise what expenditure.

Buying Products

Many organisations allow their employees to purchase products (perhaps slightly substandard) or discontinued lines, at a discount. Since this legitimate removal of such items from the premises can be abused, a well-advertised policy document should be drawn up and strictly monitored.

Draft Policy
  1. All employees are expected to respect, to protect and to retain for the exclusive use of the Organisation, all property in the ownership of the Organisation. Such property includes samples received by and prepared by the Organisation, discarded product and raw material, and all waste on the premises or belonging to the Organisation but held by others on behalf of the Organisation.

  2. Such property may not be removed, damaged or destroyed without the prior express and written permission of the management. Unauthorised removal will be regarded as theft, dealt with under the theft policy, and will be subject to prosecution as well as dismissal.

  3. Surplus items, supported by a Material Destruction Note signed by the management, will be channelled through the staff shop, together with product Authorised for such disposal and other items as management may from time to time determine, and will be made available to employees at advantageous prices for their own use, (and for the use of their immediate families) and not in any case for resale. The receipt issued must be retained as proof of purchase.

  4. Employees may not conduct any other business which is or may be in competition with the business of the Organisation, or any other business without the prior, express and written permission of the management, and may not divulge to any other party, information concerning the Organisation or its products or plans.

  5. Any employee breaking these rules will be considered to be guilty of gross misconduct.

Search Policy

Having set up policies and procedures for the legitimate removal of items from the premises, a search policy can be implemented. Since searching is repugnant to many, the manner in which it is introduced needs to be carefully considered, and there should be full consultation with employee representatives. Implementing a policy should not be rushed - every opportunity should be taken to explain the rationale and need. The framing of a policy and procedure should stress that all searches will be carried out tactfully, confidentially and at random.

Draft Policy
  1. Unless the Organisation has clear reason to suspect an employee of theft, those to be searched should be chosen entirely at random (e.g. using payroll numbers rather than names).

  2. Confidential rooms for the conduct of searches will be provided and the searches will be conducted by members of the same sex as the subject. Ideally, a witness acceptable to both parties should also be present, although this is not compulsory for employees.

  3. The searcher should indicate to the subject that the Organisation has a right to search and ask if there is any objection, pointing out (if applicable) that a refusal to allow the search will be regarded, in the absence of mitigating circumstances, as misconduct. If the employee refuses, the effect should be carefully explained again. If, following such explanation, there is still a refusal, the employee should be suspended on full pay for 24 hours pending consideration of the case under the disciplinary code.

  4. Employees should be asked to open bags, etc., and the boot/rear of any vehicle which has been parked on the premises. On no account should any comment be made on any private item seen during the conduct of the search. It is essential that the process is carried out with tact and respect.

  5. The day (as well as the time should there be a shift system in operation) should be varied, and occasionally two (or more) searches should be carried out within a short space of time (even sequentially). The random nature and unexpectedness of the procedure is one of its main strengths.

  6. Every search should be conducted swiftly. This is particularly important, since, if there is any delay, it may result in the search being carried out after working hours, i.e. in the employees' own time which may have implications under the NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE requirements.

  7. If any employees (or agents, consultants, etc.,) have a legitimate need to remove a product and/or raw material, etc., they should be given a suitable letter of authority for use should they be chosen as a subject for the search process.

  8. Employees who have been authorised to remove a product from the premises should be prepared to produce the receipt issued at the time of purchase.