Dishonest workers have increasingly fiddled expense claims to make themselves extra cash as rising prices in the shops and at the petrol pumps take their toll, legal experts have claimed.
Consultancy firm Employment Law Advisory Services (Elas) has reported a 36% increase in the number of queries about fradulent expenses in the past three months, and says bosses across the country believe more of their staff have sought to find extra money though any means possible - even illegally.
Peter Mooney, head of consultancy at Elas, said: "We've recorded a 36% increase in enquries from employers concerned about expenses claims made by their staff. Much of this can be accounted for by rising inflation, but there are some workers seeking to boost their take-home pay by making inflated or even fraudulent claims."
In September Personnel Today reported that fraud experts and business groups had put employers on red alert as the economic downturn was forcing many employees to find extra money fraudulently.
Simon Bevan, head of fraud services at accountancy firm BDO Stoy Hayward, said spiralling personal debt as a result of mortgage, food and fuel price hikes was making workers desperate. "Sadly, commercial organisations throughout the UK are currently failing, in some cases quite spectacularly, to get to grips with the fraudulent activity of their staff," he said at the time.
Recent figures from Stoy Hayward showed that employee fraud had cost UK companies more than £77m in the first half of this year - up from just £10m in the same period last year.
Mooney added: "Disciplinary measures can be taken, and in certain cases this will mean staff being sacked or even prosecuted. It all depends on the nature of their contract, and the terms and conditions of their employment."