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Answered: How to act if staff give away stock to patients

hr dilemma stock workplace
You've discovered a counter assistant doing something unexpected

Do you have enough HR knowledge to correctly answer this workplace dilemma?

You have found out that one of your young counter assistants has been giving away stock – specifically, sanitary products. She says she has done this to help customers who she knows can't afford to buy them.

Should you let her off?

How did C+D readers vote?

Result

A staff member has been giving sanitary products to deprived patients for free. Do you let her off?
Yes
30%
No
70%
Total votes: 105
The answer

Your counter assistant's heart is clearly in the right place, but she's going about this in the wrong way.

Whatever her reasons, she is stealing from your business. Providing you have evidence, you can legally dismiss her with immediate effect, and report her to the police.

However, if this is the first offence of a naïve youngster, you might not want to be so heavy-handed. There are more constructive ways of dealing with this situation.

Firstly, she needs to understand that what she is doing is wrong. Perhaps an informal word will be enough, but you need to be sure that the message has hit home or she might continue to give items away.

It might be wise to follow the official disciplinary procedures of your pharmacy or pharmacy group. If no procedure is available, consider using the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service guide to discipline and grievances at work and issue a formal written warning.

The advantage of following a formal procedure is that this should allow the person being disciplined a chance to improve. In fact, this could be a great opportunity for your counter assistant.

She has highlighted an issue that is gaining political prominence and that was recently debated in the House of Commons: 'period poverty', women being unable to afford sanitary protection.

So, you could try to turn your counter assistant's altruism into a positive action. Why don't you suggest that she comes up with a scheme to help disadvantaged people in your community?

How about a donation point in your pharmacy where patients can donate items that your counter assistant can take to a local food bank – which generally welcome sanitary products as well as food donations – or give to patients in need?

Your counter assistant has been misguided in her desire to help. She needs to understand what she has done wrong. But if you also give her the opportunity to take control of a scheme, it could boost her confidence and skills, increasing her loyalty to you as an employer.

This HR dilemma was originally posted on the Accord Academy website, part of Accord Healthcare Ltd

For adverse event and privacy policy click here. Adverse events* should be reported. Adverse events should be reported. Reporting forms and information can be found at www.mhra.gov.uk/yellowcard

Adverse events should also be reported to Accord on 01271 385257.

* "Patient safety is Accord's primary concern and we encourage healthcare professionals and patients to report any adverse event which may occur in relation to an Accord product. An adverse event includes reports of any side effect, product misuse, abuse or overdose, including inappropriate use by children or women who are pregnant or breast-feeding. It also includes reports of a product that was used for something other than the intended purpose or was ineffective, or was given with another medicine. Complaints relating to the product can also be reported."

9 Comments
Question: 
Have you found out a pharmacy employee has given away stock?

David Kent, Community pharmacist

Instant dismissal is the only option 

Pharmacy HLP, Manager

This is not a decision for all and sundry to make if they feel strongly then they can pay for it themselves and give the item to the deserving person.

 

I would like to be the one that decides in my establishment who pays and who is the recipient of a good will gesture , where will this end dont charge for prescriptions or if its some ones birthday!

James Mac, Community pharmacist

The only punishment suitable for sweethearting is death!! - a direct quote from the "company's" management handbook

Tom Kennedy, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Give the poor girl a break, at least she's trying to help someone in need, it's not easy for counter assistants to run the pharmacies while the highly paid pharmacist hides in the back playing snap chat.  If I discovered this in one of my pharmacies I'd just take the money back from the pharmacist that should have been supervising.  

Locum Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

As opposed to all the lowly paid area managers who are facing customers all the time. Lol! FYI sanitary products are sold everywhere...some places even without a pharmacist shock horror!

Pharmacists supervise the sale of pharmacy medicines and need skilled staff members who know when to refer to the pharmacist. The greedy area managers short staffing pharmacies should dig deep into their own pockets as the patient harm resulting from their unethical and immoral actions is on their non-existant conscience.

Edward H Rowan, Locum pharmacist

This idiot can't really be an area manager surely? Does he realise pharmacists aren't going to supervise purchases of tampons? Sounds like the type we need to be v. careful around - he probably lets his favoured staff do these sorts of things and fires the ones he doesn't like. Idiot. 

Locum Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

Sounds like most area managers. Treat pharmacy like a high school popularity contest and get rid of people they dont like. Also clueless as to what a pharmacist actually does.

Christopher Jay, Community pharmacist

Try giving stock away  in Tesco and see what happens. Pharmacy is a business and must make a profit. No contract of employment will state that's it's OK to give stock away, it is theft from the business, nothing more.

Locum Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

Yes. If a 'young' pharmacist did this they would probably face disciplinary action for theft. 

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