Termination with immediate effect

Theft in the workplace, whether it is against the employer, customers or suppliers is a particularly serious event. There are many reasons why an employee may commit a theft, such as feeling underpaid or having financial problems. The employer can quickly lose all confidence in his or her employee.

When an employee commits a theft, he or she is liable to be dismissed. Termination with immediate effect is sometimes possible, with or without prior warning, depending on the circumstances. What happens in the case of petty theft, for example when the employee steals filing cabinets or toilet paper?


The employer notices that money is regularly missing from the cash register or that certain objects mysteriously disappear from the workplace. He strongly suspects one of his or her employees. Such accusations are serious, even if the employer bases them on concrete evidence.

Can the employer terminate an employee’s contract with immediate effect on the basis of his suspicions of theft? What are the consequences if it turns out that the employee did not actually commit a crime?

Video surveillance

Faced with regular thefts, employers are tempted to set up video surveillance, whether to deter employees from stealing or to catch the perpetrators in the act.

However, such surveillance can infringe on the personality of employees, especially when their actions are recorded at all times. This can lead to stress for employees who may feel spied upon and pressured.

Even if the employer has legitimate interests to fight against thefts in the workplace, he cannot simply implement video surveillance. He must respect strict conditions and procedures. Otherwise, such surveillance will be illegal and the employer will not be able to use the video recordings as evidence, in particular in the context of an termination with immediate effect. 

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1 Mar, 2010 byMarianne Favre Moreillon