When most people think of theft they think of stealing something tangible, a product, money, even client lists. But the most common type of theft among employees is of time.

Since they aren’t physically taking something, it might not seem like stealing, but an employee is stealing from their employer every time that they accept pay for time that they did not work.

This theft can come in many different forms. It can happen through deliberate fraud, such as altering start/finish times, taking extended lunches/breaks, misusing paid leave, or it can happen through laziness, surfing the internet, unauthorized socializing or “goofing off”, and taking excessive personal time while at work.

It is important that employers clearly inform their employees of the rules regarding clocking in/out, taking breaks, the expectations of their job, etc. They must also be informed of the disciplinary procedures that will take place, should they break these rules.

Discovering the occurrence of time theft is the first step to putting a stop to it. Private investigators are being hired more commonly by employers to help determine whether or not time theft is occurring among their employees. P.I.’s become especially useful in circumstances where the employees suspected of time theft work outside of the office, on the road or at mobile job sites. Conducting a proper investigation, including surveillance, on employees committing any sort of theft is in the employer’s best interest because the possibility of court should always be kept in mind.

Should the employer decide to dock the guilty employee’s pay, dismiss the employee, or even go as far laying charges, court is always a possibility & employers need to be prepared with admissible evidence. Private investigators are trained to treat every part of an investigation as evidence, from background research, to surveillance, right up to the final report.

Theft is wrong, in any form, and thoroughly investigating suspicions of any fraudulent activity is the most pro-active way for employers to protect their companies.