Background and question
So, this mouthy employee has really screwed me up.
A fortnight ago he resigned to start a new job in 8 weeks. He’s worked for us for four years. No probs from me. Best of luck, I think it is the best thing. It was time for him to leave anyway.
But with 7 agonising weeks to go, this happened:
Last week I was called to a meeting with our main supplier. He said that this employee had called into their premises and while in conversation with a young lady, informed her that we had no work on and no money!
But this young lady turned out to be the daughter of the owner of this supplier.
Then it all hit the fan.
They insisted that I pay up our account right up to date. I had to, I had no choice. I even showed them my bank balance to prove our employee wrong. Didn’t help. Still had to pay.
This caused a massive cash flow problem and left us short until our next batch of cheques arrive. I almost couldn’t pay the wages.
I know I’ve been too kind to him. I thought I was helping him out when no one else would.
This is what I get in return.
What do I do now? How do I stop him from doing this again? I don’t want him around my clients and other staff! I don’t need more problems.
I want him out!
HRLADY's profession (non-legal) advice
When you get an unexpected (and upsetting) event like this, you want, first, to calmly work out a plan of response. Don’t make rash decisions that will make things even worse for you.
A reasonable employer would assess the facts, and then decide to act, if possible and necessary.
In my opinion, the facts you have put you in a position to act, and it’s very necessary.
Maybe the worst has already happened. But yes, he could do more damage.
If he was responsible for this event, it’s serious misconduct and it’s grounds for instant dismissal. The grounds for dismissal would be bringing the employer into disrepute, with a serious financial impact. You see, if he did this, and there was no impact on your business (if you did not need to pay the supplier up to date, and so on), I would recommend a final warning as the worst possible outcome.
But for you, there’s been a tremendous impact.
He possibly lied about your company (defamation) and possibly breached confidentiality, and damaged your reputation, and your bank account. That would seem like pretty clear grounds for immediate dismissal for gross misconduct.
Either, sack the for serious misconduct (don’t have to pay notice) or put him on garden leave during his notice.
If you want to sack him, then follow your proper dismissal procedures and if things did play out like you described, dismiss him for the reasons outlined, and without notice. (If you dismiss with notice you’re sending a message that it wasn’t that serious!)
But first, I would seriously think about reducing his contact with customers or suppliers.
Your first step: Speak up! Let him know what’s happened and tell him that he must not speak to any more of your suppliers, clients or staff about your business. This will make sure that he doesn’t, and if he does, you would have proof that he acted deliberately.
At the same time, you want to let him know that you are going to investigate it, and it’s highly likely that you are going to need to run a formal process with him.
Then, if your employment agreement allows for it (has a suspension clause), I would suggest you suspend him with pay. Remember, there is a specific procedure for suspending an employee.
If you do it wrong, you can create a risk for yourself. So, do it right.
Once you’ve protected yourself and your business from more harm, you should take step 2: run a disciplinary process for serious misconduct, with the option of summary dismissal.
Remember: don’t go into the process with pre-conceived ideas about what happened. Could it be that your supplier embellished what was said, just so he could be paid early? It’s possible, so before you decide the outcome of the investigation, give the guy a chance to explain.
Make sure you follow your own rules (the agreement, handbook etc) to the letter.
Whilst he might be a problem now imagine how much of a problem he could cause if he did this to all your suppliers (or worse – clients), over the next 6 weeks?!