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What you should do when a manager instructs an employee to commit a dishonest act

by , 20 July 2015
Last week, one your managers, Adam, was absent from work. He'd already exhausted his sick leave and didn't produce a medical certificate when coming back to work

In his return to work interview, you told him he wouldn't be paid for the day he was off. You note this on his leave form.

In two days' time, it's payday. And, you're busy helping your accounts lady sort out all the accounts. But you notice that Adam's leave form has miraculously disappeared. So you call in all of your employees and ask if any of them had taken the document off the account lady's desk.


No one owns up to taking Adam's leave form off the desk during the meeting. But after the meeting, one of your junior employees, Megan, comes to you and says that two days ago, Adam instructed her to take his leave form off the accounts desk and throw it in the trash. 
Adam was hopeful that if his leave form was destroyed, the accounts lady would never find out that he took a day of unpaid leave and would be paid for the full month...
Can you discipline Megan even if the dishonest action she committed was under the instruction of Adam? Here's what you should do...

Any employee who commits a dishonest action should EXPECT to be disciplined
Unfortunately for Megan, she should've known better. It should be common sense for an employee to know that committing a dishonest action will lead to a disciplinary hearing and a warning.
But before you discipline Megan, dig a little deeper. Assess the evidence to see if it would've been reasonable under the circumstances for her to refuse Adam's instruction.

No employee can be forced to commit a dishonest action

Adam couldn't have physically forced Megan to commit the act that she did. She had every right to refuse to take his leave form off the accounts desk. She knew she was wrong by doing what she did, when she did it!

Warning: 1 out of 3 dismissals are deemed as 'unfair' by the CCMA!
Chairing a disciplinary hearing isn't easy. With all the disciplinary codes and procedures you have to remember...
The roles and rules you need to adhere to...
The different questions you need to ask...
The different types of evidence that can legally be presented...
There are dozens of things you need to keep in mind to give each employee a fair hearing.
But what if I told you that chairing a hearing that follows the right disciplinary process is as easy as five simple steps?
What Megan should've done is refuse Adam's instruction report to you as the employer immediately. Alternatively, she could've used the company's internal grievance procedure to report the matter.

The bottom line: You're entitled to discipline BOTH employees

You're entitled to discipline both Adam and Megan for breaking your code of conduct in the workplace. 
Acts of dishonesty are unacceptable in the workplace. And it doesn't matter if an employee commits such an act under instruction – the point that it's unacceptable still stands! And every employee knows that.

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