How to handle employees once trust has broken down

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An employer can find themselves in a very difficult situation when they have a genuine reason to distrust an employee but that reason is insufficient to dismiss.

The first thing to consider is what has caused the mistrust. You cannot just rely on gut instinct but must have some kind of evidence to back up your suspicions before you can take any action. If the reason for the loss of trust relates to alleged financial wrongdoing then suspending the employee will probably be the most appropriate course of action to allow you to carry out a thorough investigation. Suspension should not be allowed to drag on. Tell the employee and write to them to confirm that they are being suspended on full pay to enable you to carry out an investigation, advise them that suspension is not a disciplinary sanction and make sure you keep them up to date as the investigation progresses.

If, once you have completed the investigation, you don’t have sufficient evidence against the employee, they should be brought back to work as quickly as possible and told that no further action will be taken. You may well still have your suspicions and will continue to monitor their activity.

You may however decide to take disciplinary action but, because of lack of sufficient evidence, the sanction falls short of dismissal. You may decide to remove duties from their job description or demote them but you can only do this if you have the contractual right to allow that course of action. Without that right, then this is not an option.

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