A clear, concise, well-written and up-to-date workplace theft policy can prevent violations at work by clarifying expectations and clearly explaining the company’s approach to theft.
If your workplace theft policy needs a major update, or if you realized that you don’t even have one in place yet, then you’re in luck because we’ve put together a basic outline to help you get started:
Define the Purpose and Scope of the Policy
Having a clear policy at work helps to create a common understanding of what the employer sees as “acceptable” or “unacceptable” behavior on a number of topics.
Employees stealing? Download the free How to Confront Employee Theft cheat sheet.
For this reason, workplace theft policies should begin with a straightforward definition of theft and a description of the scope of this policy.
Your policy can explicitly state that the company expects all employees to act honestly and with integrity, and will not tolerate any acts of theft in the workplace.
For extra clarity, list some types of theft:
- Physical goods or assets
- Intellectual property
and those who may be victimized, such as the employer, coworkers, clients and customers.
Explain the Consequences of Workplace Theft
An employee will be likely to make better decisions if there is a policy explicitly stating the company takes these matters seriously and that there are consequences in place to deal with those that violate the policy.
A workplace theft policy should explain that all reported and suspected violations will be investigated no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.
In addition to professional discipline, your policy may detail other consequences such as restitution (paying back what was stolen) or legal action.
Outline Roles and Responsibilities
Every workplace theft policy should include a section that explains how the employer will work to address and prevent acts of theft.
These responsibilities may include things like:
- Raising awareness of the policy to all new and existing employees
- Establishing a confidential reporting procedure or “hotline”
- Enforcing all pieces of the policy including properly investigating claims of theft
- Following through with appropriate discipline
In addition, companies can provide opportunities for employees to undergo training to better understand theft and identify it in the workplace.
Extra Tips for Writing a Workplace Theft Policy
Keep the Language Simple
Your theft policy must be written simply enough that your employees, AKA those who will read the policy, can fully understand each section.
However, it must be written in a formal tone to convey the importance of the document (but not too formal so that it reads like a textbook).
Cater to Your Industry
Depending on the industry, your policy may require more detail to address all of the “shades of grey”.
For example, would it be considered theft if a retail worker let a family or friend use their employee discount?
This is a unique situation that a retail store would need to address in their policy but a payroll company, for example, wouldn’t.
Need More Tips?
If you need more tips, check out seven must-haves for your policy.
Or if you feel ready to get started, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) uses a great template in their sample fraud policy document, and Totally Local HR posted sample text to use in your policy.