Means, motive and opportunity to commit fraud and theft in the workplace

Means, motive and opportunity to commit fraud and theft in the workplace

September 9, 2022

It’s generally accepted that when detecting a crime, that the investigator is looking to see whether the alleged offender has had means, motive and opportunity. The structure of an investigation.

In the world of HR, the commonest ‘crime’ we hear in employment is that of theft and fraud.

Clients will contact us and share that something ‘unexpected’ has occured and they need to investigate. Sadly, what often becomes apparent during the investigation is that the employee has been given the means, and the opportunity by their employer. Two of the three structures when detecting a crime. The motive was all the employees.

Let me give you an example.

Say you allow your staff to enter their own sickness absence dates onto a spreadsheet. What we are doing as an employer here is giving a ‘dishonest’ employee the means and opportunity to fail to enter their sickness absence.

The only way to ensure that the employee doesn’t have the means and the opportunity is for the absence to be recorded by the Line Manager. There are things you should delegate and things you should not.

I remember when I was first a Staff Manager being told, you will have access to everyone’s personnel file, except your own! The payroll department we had in the factory had their payroll checked by the Finance Director to make sure that the payroll was right before being sent off to BACS for payment.

So what happens if an employer gives someone the means and opportunity to commit a crime?

If you find that your actions, or in some cases lack of actions, have given someone the means and opportunity to steal from you or commit fraud. Please make sure you investigate fully and hold the offender to account and then learn from the incident and tighter your processes so it can’t happen as easily next time as you have removed the means and the opportunity.

If you need any assistance in any aspect of managing the employees in your business, please contact us on 01527 909436.

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