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Businesses Lose an Estimated £190m Every Year with 67% of Employees Admitting to Theft in the Workplace

Published 21 June 2016

It appears workers are not afraid to help themselves when it comes to stealing from their employer. A survey revealed that two thirds of office-based employees freely admitted they had robbed from work, with 11 per cent confessing to nicking personal items from colleagues (1).

Estimates suggest this type of theft is hitting employers hard in the pocket and costing businesses over £190m (2,3).

Those who took part in the poll were firstly asked ‘Have you ever stolen anything from your office?’ and 67 per cent admitted they had (1,4).

The reason given for stealing personal items from a colleague include jealousy (11 per cent) and in reaction to an argument (41 per cent) (1).

The survey by Kit Out My Office, which quizzed 2,106 workers, revealed the items stolen from colleagues included food and drink, pens and notebooks and toilet rolls (1).

One of the best deterrents to any type of theft in the workplace is to ensure all employees are informed and fully aware that any such incidents will be taken seriously and investigated.

Clear, established and accessible procedures and guidelines in relation to such investigations will ensure that an employer can deal with the issue in a legal, effective and consistent manner (5,6).

A disciplinary policy will usually list theft as an act of gross misconduct, which means the employee can be dismissed immediately without notice (7).

Although the small items stolen may appear trivial, such thefts are capable of amounting to a breach of trust and gross misconduct. Although proper consideration should still be given to if the offence is serious enough to destroy the working relationship.

The correct disciplinary procedure would have to be followed; mitigating factors such as length of service and past history and all alternative sanctions should be reasonably considered (8).

If a formal sanction is issued the employee should be notified of their right to appeal (9).



  1. Survey: 67% of Britons Steal Stationery From The Office [Internet]. [cited 2016 Jun 21]. Available from:
  2. Employee theft costs businesses £190m a year [Internet]. Fresh Business Thinking. [cited 2016 Jun 21]. Available from:
  3. Businesses Lose £190m Every Year to Employee Theft -Business advice to help you run your business [Internet]. [cited 2016 Jun 21]. Available from:
  4. Employee theft costs British businesses over £190 Million [Internet]. [cited 2016 Jun 21]. Available from:
  5. The Benefit of Workplace Policies when Communicated Effectively and Applied Consistently :: Cornwall Stodart Lawyers [Internet]. [cited 2016 Jun 21]. Available from:
  6. 8 advantages of having workplace policies [Internet]. [cited 2016 Jun 21]. Available from:
  7. Disciplinary Procedure Policy [Internet]. Castle Associates Ltd. 2016 [cited 2016 Jun 21]. Available from:
  8. Taking disciplinary action against an employee - GOV.UK [Internet]. [cited 2016 Jun 21]. Available from:
  9. Appeals: Taking disciplinary action against an employee - GOV.UK [Internet]. [cited 2016 Jun 21]. Available from:

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