Thoughts On The National Staff Dismissal Register

Author:Ms Helen Boddy
Profession:Shadbolt LLP
 
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The National Staff Dismissal Register ("NSDR") was

recently created to provide a facility for employers, particularly

those in the retail sector, to reduce crimes committed against them

by their own employees.

Retailers have always suffered from significant levels of theft.

Employees have been known to find ingenious ways to evade security

measures in order to steal cash, merchandise or other property in

spite of the security measures put in place. Fraud, damage to

company property and thefts from customers and other staff are also

commonplace.

The NSDR is a database which holds details of individuals who

have been dismissed or who have left employment whilst under

investigation for acts of dishonesty towards their employer.

Several large retailers have already signed up to the NSDR.

Employers who sign up to the NSDR will be able to search the

NSDR to check whether an applicant has been dismissed previously

for acts of dishonesty. There is no requirement that an individual

has actually been convicted of any criminal offence before they can

be included on the NSDR. There is therefore much concern that

individuals can be "blacklisted" even where there is no

proof that they have done anything wrong.

The body behind the NSDR, the British Retail Consortium, is keen

to stress that it considers that the NSDR complies with the Data

Protection Act 1988 ("DPA"), which regulates the use and

handling of information held and processed regarding individuals.

Employers will have to comply with the DPA when they add

information to the NSDR. Individuals will be able to demand

disclosure of all information held about them and will be able to

challenge any inaccuracies.

There are however, concerns that the disadvantages and

compliance issues outweigh the benefits of the NSDR. It is arguable

that where there is insufficient evidence to prosecute an

individual, it is unfair to include them on the NSDR. No account is

taken of the different burdens of proof between criminal and civil

matters. Even if there is insufficient evidence to prove that an

individual has, beyond reasonable doubt, committed a

crime, there may be sufficient evidence to prove on the balance

of probabilities that the employee in question carried out the

alleged act and should therefore lose his job. Employers need only

to satisfy an Employment Tribunal on the balance of probabilities

that a particular employee stole cash from the tills in order to

dismiss the employee fairly for theft. There...

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