So if you think your employee has set up a competing business, first thing is not to panic!
Actually, who am I kidding – of course you’re going to panic. And you’ll feel angry and disappointed and let down and then angry again.
Before you go acting on any emotion though, my best advice is just to stop. Take a breath (or as many as you need!). Allow yourself to feel all those emotions but understand that acting on them is never going to be a good plan.
Ideally, find yourself a good HR Consultant and rant to them instead of immediately acting on your emotions!
Once the emotional response has dissipated, it’s time for action.
Something’s made you think that the employee has set up their own business so now you need to gather evidence. Use external and internal sources of information and get copies of any relevant documentation, screen shots etc. It’s extremely important to get copies of any evidence as you’ll need to provide those at a later stage.
I recommend that you invite the employee to an investigation meeting to inform them that you’ve found this information and ask for their comments.
Sometimes an employee will deny any wrongdoing. Or they’ll say that it’s not a competing business. Or they’ll say that it’s just something for them to do during the evenings and weekends. The most important thing is for you to let them know about the information you’ve found, to hear what they have to say and then to consider their comments.
To dismiss or not to dismiss
Setting up or being involved in a competing business can be grounds for dismissal. However, you CANNOT dismiss any employee under these circumstances without a disciplinary hearing.
This is not the time to make a rash decision and then worry about the potential fall-out – now is the time to take advice, make sure you have all your ducks in a row and act calmly and reasonably.
There are all sorts of reasons for employees setting up or being involved in another business and it’s not always an issue. The key is to gather all the evidence you can before you make any big decisions about the employee’s future in your business.
And when I say take advice, I mean speak to a decent HR Consultant. Or you know, give us a call!