Written Warning for Stealing



In many service businesses more property walks out the back door in the hands of employees than by the guests. Many employees don’t even view it as stealing at all. In fact they believe the company owes it to them. Many years ago we observed a young employee taking several bottles of soda. When we stopped them they first tried to lie their way out of it by telling us that they had purchased them. Then their father called me and tried to make a case that it was only a few bottles of soda and what was the big deal. It wasn’t hard to see why the young man believed that taking the soda was alright after speaking with his father.















At best, issuing a written warning for stealing is the right choice; however, depending on the circumstances I believe that stealing merits immediate termination or a long period of suspension. When I refer to the term stealing in the workplace I call it, removing company property without permission. They are both the same thing but I just feel more comfortable referring to it this way since I can’t look into their mind and determine what their intent was.

In order to reduce the risk of legal action by the employee for discrimination or wrongful discharge there are two things that need to be in place. The first is having an employee handbook that describes all your employment policies and what the consequences of violating them are so that there is no doubt where your company stands. Secondly, within your employee handbook you should have a policy on progressive discipline and a description of what it means. Briefly, progressive discipline is a policy of issuing the least amount of discipline first necessary to correct behavior. If an employee continues to violate company policy more severe discipline is issued up to and including termination. Also, the policy would inform employees that there are certain violations that merit more severe discipline, including immediate termination, the first time they are violated. Normally, the progression of discipline might look like this; written counseling, first written warning, second written warning, suspension, and then termination. This can be shorter or longer depending on your preferences.

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progressive discipline process


In addition, I prefer using employee discipline forms for several reasons. Number one, employee discipline forms will insure that every employee disciplinary action will contain the same elements. Those elements will help to reduce the likelihood of a successful legal action against your company should the employee decide to file an unwarranted claim. The key when using employee discipline forms is to complete them consistently for all employees and use only facts and never emotion. The second very important factor when issuing employee discipline is to be fair and consistent with all employees, i.e., don’t discipline one employee and not another for the same issue.

Here is an example written warning for stealing:

This warning letter is being issued to you for removing company property without permission, which is a violation of our company policy as outlined in our employee handbook.

On August 3, 2013, at approximately 4:30pm you were observed removing twelve writing pens, four writing tables, one stapler, one box of staples, and three binders. When questioned you stated that you needed school supplies for your child and didn’t think it was a big deal. You acknowledged by your signature that you received an employee handbook on April 22, 2010.

Removing any company property without permission is a violation of company policy. You are being provided another copy of our employee handbook and you are being required to sign acknowledging that you have read it. In the event you do not understand any portion of the handbook it will be explained to you prior to your signature.

Any further violations of any company policy will result in progressive discipline up to and including possible termination.



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Thank you and May God bless you!

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