Every business owner will have problems with employees sometimes. Dealing with those issues and making sure that everybody is doing their job is a major part of your role as the boss. But from time to time, you’re going to find yourself in an unusual situation that you probably never prepared for.
One of your employees being arrested is a situation that you never want to find yourself in and it’s incredibly rare. But it can happen and if it does, it puts you in quite a tricky situation. You need to be very careful about how you proceed because you need to be sure that you don’t get caught up in anything that could potentially harm the business.
It’s especially difficult if your employee is maintaining their innocence and you don’t know what to believe. But it’s important that you don’t make any assumptions or do anything drastic before knowing the full story. If one of your employees gets into legal trouble and ends up getting arrested, this is what you should do.
Does It Relate to Work?
The first thing you need to find out is whether their situation has any impact on your business. If they’ve been charged or convicted of a crime outside the office that doesn’t have any impact on their job in a direct sense, you don’t need to worry too much. However, if they have been charged with something that will affect their ability to do their job properly, you’ll need to start making some decisions. For example, if they’ve been charged with stealing from the company or perhaps they were charged with a driving offence which means they can no longer drive to work, that might cause problems.
Seek the Advice of a Lawyer
In most cases, you shouldn’t get caught up in the situation but you still need to be careful. There may be company records etc. that are considered evidence or maybe some of the criminal activity that your employee is being accused of took place on company property. In that case, your business is tied up with the investigation so you need to be careful about how you proceed. Before you do anything else, speak to a lawyer and ask them how you should proceed. It might be best for you to cut off contact with your employee and stay quiet or it might be best for you to go straight to the police and tell them what you know. Either way, your lawyer will be able to advise you on the best course of action and make sure you don’t do anything that could damage your company.
You shouldn’t be making any final decisions on the fate of your employee just yet, it’s too early for that. However, while the process is going on, you do need to suspend them. Make clear to them and the rest of the staff that they are temporarily suspended while the investigation is going on and you’ll make a final decision once you have all of the facts. If you keep them on and don’t take any action, it can look very bad for you. Even before the investigation has taken place, the general public will have a certain perception of somebody that has been arrested. That’s why it’s important to distance yourself somewhat and make sure that people don’t get the impression that you’re condoning whatever it is that your employee has been accused of, otherwise, it’ll have a negative image on your public image.
Get Their Side of the Story
Before you make any long-term decisions, you need to get their side of the story and find out exactly what’s going on. Check the jail visitation rules in your area and work out a time when you can go to see them. Let them tell you their version of the story and then you can speak to them about what your options are. Reassure them that you’ll let the investigation take its course before making any final decisions, but you have to suspend them and if they are found guilty, their future at the business may be in jeopardy.
Hire Somebody Else
Regardless of whether you end up letting them go or not, it’s going to be a while before the investigation is done and you know whether they’re coming back or not. You’ll need somebody to do their job during that period. You could always get existing employees to pick up the slack but that’s going to make everybody less efficient. You’re far better off hiring a new employee, at least for a while. Bring somebody in on a temporary basis to start with because you don’t know whether your existing employee will return at some point. If you take somebody on a permanent contract, it’ll be a lot harder to get rid of them if you don’t need them more.
Wait for a Verdict
Now that you’ve found somebody to replace them and temporarily suspended them, you need to wait until there is a verdict before you can decide how to move forward. This process can take quite a while so you need to prepare for the fact that your employee might not be back for a while, if they end up coming back at all.
Make Your Final Decision
Once there is a verdict, whether it’s guilty or not, you need to make your final decision. If they are found not guilty, things are fairly simple. In most cases, an employer will let them return to work and resume working as normal. If they haven’t done anything wrong, it’s a pretty easy decision to make. But what if they are found guilty? It might seem like getting rid of them is the only option but you need to consider the crime. If they’re convicted of any kind of violent crime or something like stealing, obviously, you should get rid of them. But if they were charged with something like not paying their parking tickets, that’s not quite so clear cut. Obviously, it was wrong but it doesn’t affect their ability to do their job so you don’t necessarily need to get rid of them.
This is an incredibly difficult situation to find yourself in and the most important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t make any impulsive decisions. Let the police carry out their investigation and then make a decision based on the facts.