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The ACAS Code states that: ‘If an employee is charged with, or convicted of, a criminal offence this is not normally in itself reason for disciplinary action. Consideration needs to be given to what effect the charge or conviction has on the employee’s suitability to do the job and their relationship with their employer, work colleagues and customers.’

Not all crimes will stop the employee from still doing their job, or another job in the organisation. When a crime is suspected, as an employer you should investigate the level of culpability, the effect this had on the business and other colleagues, and whether there had been any misconduct. Most of the time criminal activity is reported by another colleague to an employer and action is taken from there.

The courts have firmly said that reporting an employee to the police is only to be done in very extreme circumstances. Also, by reporting a colleague, it can breach the mutual trust and confidence between you and that employee. Where the police are called, ACAS advises that the police should not be asked to take over an investigation, whilst not attending disciplinary or other meetings.

Crime outside the workplace

A criminal charge, investigation or conviction will only usually lead to disciplinary action if it has a significant impact on work. As an employer, things to consider include:

  • has there been any negative impact on employees or others associated with your organisation?
  • is the employee now less suitable from doing their job and is your reputation at risk?

Assess each of these points before deeming the employee suitable for work. Also consider the crime committed by the employee to see how this may affect them doing their previous job, for example a delivery driver committed of dangerous diving.

An employee who has been sent to prison

In this case there are usually 3 options for an employer. The job can be kept open but assess the impact this may have for other employees and on the reputation of the business. Treat the employment as having ended, otherwise known as frustration, since the employee being imprisoned makes it very difficult to keep the same performance that was previously expected, and the employee cannot continue their role in prison. Lastly, the employee may be dismissed. This could be related to work, therefore deeming them unsuitable to work there, or outside of work in which the event greatly affects your trust and confidence in them.