Cathay Pacific is cracking down on flight attendants who steal in-flight supplies such as alcohol, cutlery and ice cream, which has cost the airline hundreds of millions of dollars over the years.
According to a report in the South China Morning Post, the Hong Kong-based carrier has started spot checks of flight crew when they return to home base to prevent theft, long considered an unofficial perk by staff, the newspaper said.
At least six employees were reportedly placed under investigation last weekend.
Ice cream most popular item swiped
Cathay Pacific says stolen items from aircraft have cost the carrier ‘hundreds of millions’ over the years.
Pots of Haagen-Dazs ice cream are among the most popular items swiped, along with alcohol, wet wipes and company-branded pens, the Post reported.
“In view of an increasing number of reported losses of company property, we have informed our cabin crew that random inspections will be carried out,” Cathay said in an emailed statement.
“We are dealing with cases in a fair and reasonable manner in accordance with standard internal procedure.”
Qantas flight attendants sacked for theft
Qantas has long had a policy warning staff that they face dismissal if caught removing company property from aircraft without authorisation.
David Dawson, who had worked as a flight attendant for Qantas for 28 years, was sacked after a random search following a flight from Perth to Sydney found he was carrying a can of beer, and a mini bottle of gin and a mini bottle of vodka that he had taken from the aircraft.
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More recently, Alison Warr, another long-serving Qantas flight attendant, lost her job after she admitted to drinking a quarter of a litre of vodka she took from the front galley of an aircraft during a flight from Sydney to South Africa.
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Theft of company property serious misconduct
Miles Heffernan, Litigation Director at Industrial Relations Claims, said theft of company property is considered serious misconduct.
“Under the Fair Work Act, an employer can usually terminate a worker’s employment immediately where the employer can substantiate serious misconduct – and on the list of serious misconduct is theft of company property,” he said.
Not all company theft turns out to be theft
But not all allegations of company theft turn out to be theft.
Engineering manager Jason Thomas was sacked for stealing company property after he took an unopened bottle of Jack Daniels and Jim Beam and Johnny Walker Red home.
He had been asked to throw out the alcohol in a dumpster outside the building after it had been found in a mouldy esky following an office Melbourne Cup celebration months earlier.
The Fair Work Commission found he had not engaged in theft, because the alcohol had been abandoned, and ordered his employer to give him his job back.
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Never take anything without permission
Mr Heffernan from IR Claims advised all workers to never take any company property without authorisation.
“Many businesses now conduct random searches of cars and bags of employees before they leave the premises, so stealing is definitely not worth the risk,” he said.
“If you do want to take something home from work – even if you find it in a bin – it is always best to ask permission beforehand, so you don’t put your employment at risk.
“If you do decide to swipe some stationery, or a bottle of alcohol, or a tub of ice cream and you get caught, you can rightly expect to lose your job.”
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