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What to look for?

Try to identify witnesses and obtain written statements. If possible, take photographs of the damage. Attempt to find reasons why the employee acted as they did – they may have been refused an increase, they may have been refused a bonus, or something of that nature.

Question fellow colleagues – they may be able to reveal things that were said by the accused employee about how they would hit back at the employer for the perceived unfairness.

Make sure whether it is wilful or negligently done. Carefully look for the element of intent – you must be able to show that the employee intended to damage the property on purpose – in other words, it was not accidental.

Establish that the employee was aware that their action would result in damage – but they went ahead and did it anyway.

Try to find any instruments or implements used in causing the damage – a hammer, a knife, a screwdriver, or even any electrical equipment such as a hair clipper or hairdryer.

Check the employee’s file for previous disciplinary actions for a similar offence, or other offences of misconduct.

What must the investigator prove at the disciplinary enquiry?

Produce witnesses to give evidence.

Produce any photographs taken to show the presiding officer the extent of the damage. Produce any instruments used in causing the damage.

Emphasize that the damage was wilful and not accidental – show that the perpetrator intended to cause the damage. If it is the case, emphasize that the employee has not made any offer to pay for or rectify the damage caused.

If the employee has offered to pay for it, then don’t mention that. Show calculations that establish the cost of repairing the damage. Emphasize that the employee’s behaviour has destroyed the element of trust in the employment relationship. Put forward any evidence of previous disciplinary actions for the same offence or other acts of misconduct.


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