3 Steps To Take When Your Employee Is Arrested

by | Jul 11, 2023 | Blog, HR Policies

  • Amy Letke

    Amy Newbanks Letke, SPHR, GPHR, is the Founder of Integrity HR, Inc. Amy provides workplace solutions to improve performance, reduce liability and increase profits. She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and business owners achieve success. Contact us for more insights - 502-753-0970 or info@integrityhr.com

Here’s a scenario you’d probably rather not think about while you’re tucked up in bed dreaming of profit margins. Or while you’re sipping your morning latte. One of your employees was arrested last night.  

Yes, you read that correctly. Now, take a deep breath, retrieve that pillow you just launched across the room, and mop up the coffee you just sprayed all over your desk. It’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. 

But don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Here’s a handy three-step guide to navigating this unexpected hiccup when your employee is arrested. 

Three Steps to Take When Your Employee Is Arrested 

Step 1 – Keep Calm and Carry On 

As a leader, it’s crucial to keep your cool. Making a hasty decision could land you in hot water with labor laws, and nobody wants a lawsuit on their hands. Remember, this is the land of the free, where everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Arrests don’t necessarily mean a crime has been committed. Repeat this mantra until you’re calm and ready to proceed to step 2. 

Step 2 – Lend an Ear to Your Employee 

Good news! There are no federal laws stopping you from asking your employee about their arrest. So, give them a chance to explain. It could be a case of wrong place, wrong time, or something more serious. Either way, gather as much information as possible about the arrest, potential charges, and what’s next for your employee. If they’re still in custody, you might need to rely on the arrest record, which is public information and can be found at your local courthouse or police station. Just make sure to check your state’s laws about employers inquiring about arrest records. Now, onto step 3. 

Step 3 – Know Your Legal Rights 

Now that you’re armed with all the facts, it’s time to figure out your next steps, within the bounds of the law, of course. Familiarize yourself with your state’s laws regarding convictions. In some states, employers can make decisions based on the employee’s conduct related to the arrest. If the conduct is relevant to the job and suggests the employee may be unfit for their role, termination could be an option.  

Remember, you can’t fire someone just for having a criminal record. After assessing the situation, it might be more suitable to give the employee a leave of absence, suspend them, or temporarily move them to a less public role while the investigation is ongoing. 

What You Can Do Today – Be Prepared 

Think this could never happen to your business? Think again. According to FBI crime estimates, approximately 1 in every 33 Americans are arrested each year. So, how many employees do you have? And are you prepared if an employee is arrested?

Before you start calculating your odds, remember that you can prepare for this situation. At Integrity HR, we believe in being proactive. Develop your procedure today, so if this unfortunate situation arises, you’re ready. 

Here Are 6 Best Practices for Your Criminal Conduct Procedure 

  1. Have a written policy for applicants and employees concerning criminal conduct. 
  2. Maintain employee confidentiality and only disclose arrest information on a need-to-know basis. 
  3. Consider the feelings of other employees. 
  4. Ensure your procedure doesn’t negatively impact protected groups. 
  5. Consider the size of your company and the impact of the arrest on your brand. 
  6. Train your managers on the policy and procedure. 

In the end, there’s no magic wand to wave away this kind of situation. But being prepared for if your employee is arrested can make all the difference. If you have any questions about developing policies and procedures for your company, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to help! 

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