Worst colleague — or most deluded?

By: Michael Scutt

Date: 27 July 2010

Business man in black maskMy candidate would be Dave, our new salesman who was given a company credit card. At the time, these cards were given out to most salespeople so that they could buy petrol. Nothing out of the ordinary there, then.

At the end of the second month in the job, the accounts department started querying Dave’s statements. It turned out he – and Mrs Dave - been doing the weekly grocery shop with the card. When asked to explain himself, he claimed grumpily that popping into the local Sainsbury's was “a perk”.

Taking this behaviour to extremes, I'm guessing he could have booked a fortnight in the Maldives on the assumption that doing so was just one of those things a salesman in publishing typically did. It obviously helped that he was deranged — we later found that his background in "the army" was not all he'd claimed — but this is my favourite example of a company facility being abused.

Michael Scutt writes: 

It’s an old saying in employment law that if you want to get rid of someone, take a good look at their expenses. Stealing, thieving, fiddling, “adjusting”, being economical with the truth …  they are all examples of dishonesty. 

Theoretically even taking a pencil from the office stationery cupboard is stealing but most employers will take a sensible approach in trivial cases.   Every employee owes a duty of fidelity to his/her employer.  This includes not working against the employer’s best interests and certainly includes not stealing from them.  “Massaging” the expenses is widespread, of course, but most people  don’t behave as blatantly as Dave here did.  It is a disciplinary matter and the likely outcome will be summary dismissal for gross misconduct. 

To avoid any misunderstanding at all, many employers that issue credit cards for expenses will specifically inform the employee (usually in the contract of employment) that the card is to be used for business expenses only and will set out the consequences for misuse and abuse of the card.

What does the * mean?

If a link has a * this means it is an affiliate link. To find out more, see our FAQs.