Employee’s termination for company credit card misuse upheld

A MANAGER who misused his company credit card to purchase two cartons of beer for a private work Christmas party has had his termination upheld by the Fair Work Commission.

Late last year, the manager requested that the plumbing department of the employer have their own company Christmas party. The request was declined, citing that the entire company would have one Christmas party.

As a result, one of the plumbing department's employees organised for a private Christmas function for the department. The manager was invited to attend. The manager purchased two cartons of beer with his work credit card and attended the function.

The total purchase was about $115. He then recorded the purchase as a "supplier gift", and submitted this to the relevant office manager.

In an email to his manager, the plumbing manager advised that he had accidentally used the credit card for private purchases and offered to repay the amounts.

The manager had received an induction into the employer's policies and procedures which included a detailed credit card-use policy.

The employee was consequently terminated for misuse of the company credit card, and then attempting to mischaracterise the purchase.

The employer considered this conduct to be serious misconduct, and breaching the trust and confidence of the employment relationship.

Senior Deputy President O'Callaghan held that "(the employee's) conduct and subsequent attempts to hide the purchase represented a valid reason for the termination of his employment."

SDP O'Callaghan noted that the purchase was a relatively small one, but noted that the induction on the credit card policy had been quite recent and that the manager had been expressly told that a Christmas function for the plumbing department was not approved.

The SDP stated that but for these particular facts, he may have found differently.

Lessons for Employers

The fact that the employer had a detailed policy and comprehensive induction on it was a critical element to the termination being upheld in this instance, and this is the key lesson for employers in this case.

  • Lisa Aitken is an accredited specialist in workplace relations law and the principal of Aitken Legal, a law firm specialising in employment law for employers. The information in this column is intended as a guide only. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

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