Cashier accountability question

Lately, we have been noticing an issue with being short about $5 to $20 in an evening.

I know it doesn’t come from my “watch”, because I always count the change back manually…and then I always verify my funds before I leave.

There are 2 employees we suspect, but hope it’s not deliberate.

My question is…do you think, if you suspected an employee of helping themselves to the money, that it would be a good measure to start making all cashiers accountable of paying shortages by a debit out of their paycheck?

We used to do that at a casino I worked for…I just don’t know if it would work in a pizza environment.

Any ideas?

I think this is hard to implement in a pizza shop. First off, how desireable is a cashiers job at a pizza shop in your town, as opposed to jobs that were responsible for their money at the casino you used to work at. I would imagine that the casino probably had a huge line of people hoping to work there, and the average pizza shop generally has a tough time keeping a full schedule. Plus if you pay minimum wage or close to it, you can not legaly penalize an employee an amount that would bring them below minimum wage.

Secondly, are you willing to give each cashier their own cash drawer, and allow them to count the drawer at the start of their shift as well as at the end of their shift whille on the clock? No offense meant but after hearing a few stories about your management team, I wouldn’t trust someone else there to count my till and tell me it was short.

What I would do is to determine who is the one causing the shortage each night by giving them their own drawers and just get rid of the one that is either stealing money or can’t count change back on a nightly basis. If you find that one person is always short, it’s hard not to see the cause being one of these two reasons.

I’m with Paul7979. Unless you have singular accountability for a drawer, and it is signed in and out, you lose teeth in arguing about shortfalls. We are also anxious about consistent overages since that means the customer is getting ripped off somewhere. If something like this is decided by “management”, then be sure to document every drawer every night. Then you have what you need to defend unemployment claims.


First of all, Who ever is the problem has to go. Either they are stealing or they are incompetent at one of the basic required skills of the job.

In our stores, the manager is repsonsible for cash security. That includes training, control of who is “in the drawer,” accurate counts for deposits etc. Cash handling is one of the key areas for bonus and shortages come out of the manager’s bonus. (Since it is not deducted from wages, this is allowed) …tends to get them paying attention to the issue.

The first thing I would suggest is that each shift ONE person is assigned to the cash drawer and others told to stay out. When there are several people ringing up sales, a thief knows that there is no way to determine at the end of the night what happened with the cash.

Excellent points and suggestions.

We have 2 POS’s…one that I use during the day, but like I said, I count it down before I transfer it over to the evening manager.

The problem, I feel, is coming from a certain employee…but we haven’t caught them at it yet, and we’re not in the position to accuse and let go…we’re very short staffed, so we’re waiting to see if the person can be “caught” if there is a need to be caught…or taught if they’re not stealing it.

It just seems that any time we fall short, that particular person is on shift.

I want to do a cash handling training with the cashiers SO badly…I’m going to have to bring this up to my boss, considering I’ve handled much larger sums of cash through many periods of my working life in different positions and have never had a shortage we didn’t find later that was over $3.00.

Money is in the tills folded, upside down, every which way you can imagine, coins mixed together…and when the power goes out…I’m the only one who seems to know how to count back change the old fashioned way (no calculator for me). YIKES!!!

First thing that comes to my mind is your description of the money in the register in its unorganized state. Somebody (meaning management) has little respect for the money. If they have little respect for it what then can you expect from employees?

Secondly, if you are not part of management and the scenario is of their making then you will be bringing in an element that they obviously don’t care about and they might view as simply an intrusion by you.

Third, it would seem that the problem is essentially not the employee but the philosophy and management style of the business. This particular employee is a symptom and the real problem is management. I would think the “real problem” has to be fixed first because it will be just a question of time before another employee decides to “get their share”.

Many, many years ago I read something that was very disturbing and I did not believe it at first. It went something like this. 25% of your employees are dishonest in some manner and no matter what system you set up they will get you to some extent (money, products, supplies, etc). 25% of your employees are honest because they respond to their own internal set of values undoubtedly developed via their parents. 50% of your employees are honest IF YOU KEEP THEM THAT WAY. So, we have to watch 75% of the potential candidates for theft. Oh, and, when the theft level gets to high the honest 25% group begins to leave because they sense they are in the wrong environment and are uncomfortable. As I said, I did not believe this when I read it. Over the years and through many restaurants I learned it was pretty close. There must be controls and accountability. There must be specific accountability wherever possible. In this case there has to be one person who is specifically responsible for the cash drawer meaning no one else can use it, even the manager. We have done this sometimes even when a particular store environment makes it very difficult to do it until we discover who is stealing. We have even “salted” the drawer with an extra $20 or so to see what happens. If it is determined who the culprit is then they might be terminated because they cannot perform the function of counting money to customers or the drawer at the end of the night. In reality not being able to count change properly, or stealing, should disqualify any employee from handling money.

We have found that stealing is like a cancer. It never remains static, instead it grows however slowly. Somehow employees become aware of what is happening and some begin to participate.

In my opinion we are in a somewhat different era now. When I was a young boy we never locked our house and we could leave tools in the back of our trucks without fear of them being stolen. If my parents ever found something I had which they know they did not buy for me there were questions. When I was very little I went to the market with my father and as we were leaving he noticed I was chewing gum. There was only one explanation. My father marched me right back into the store and made me confess to the manager of the market. I was so embarrassed that I never forgot it all these years. I also did not forget the lecture and the fact that I could not sit down very well the rest of the day. Today it seems in to many instances that there is no particularly negative stigma attached to petty theft. Kids laugh about it amongst themselves and many parents don’t seem to notice or care. Many of those kids are now working in our restaurants.

Well stated GMAC. You covered the subject and brought up old values that are missed in todays era.

In addition to the pizza industry, I also work for most of the fast food companies, Mc Donalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and an assortment of “C” stores, etc. I can say that at their stores, of which there are a few, the cashiers each have their own personal number used to ring up a sale, and they are held personally responsible for any shortages. I realize that this is not my area of personal expertiese, but if it works in all of these other applications, why won’t it work in the pizza industry? On the surface it seems to make common sense, but maybe I’m missing something?
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Check your state laws before you do this. Where I’m at, the employee must be the person that has access to the till and they must sign a form stating they’re aware of the policy that they will pay for shortages out of their paycheck. A manager must count the till at their shift start (with them present) and there must be a signed verification of the amount by both. Same thing at the end of shift.

I assume the laws are similar in other states. If it is legal where you are at, make sure you have a paper trail.

Piper is right, check your state laws before establishing policy. That is why I take shortages from the bonus rather than from wages. The bonus, whether to pay one or not and how much, is up to me. I can base it on whatever I want. In the end, I hold the managers responsible for cash control.

I placed a camera above my register and that fixed my cash shortage problem. I caught the person and he paid back every penny and I fired him.

Ask if they are not comfortable with cash and if they would like to change positions…

hope this helps

You mean you give someone 3 to 5 times to steal from you before you do something? I bet you don’t own a business. If you did, you would not be so lenient with someone else’s money.

Add a system that eliminates extra access to the cash registers.

78% of all statistics are made up.

Once a thief, always a thief.

Why in the world would you give everyone access to the till? Have 1 key, and one person responsible. That is the only way to eliminate 100% of the problem.

If you don’t agree, can I come work for you?


This is the owner that is waiting on catching the crook…not me.

I have a very good idea of who it is and have communicated this to him, but unless he catches this person in the act, he wants to make sure that it’s actually theft and not just needing to train them better.

And, btw, I actually DO own a business…but it’s casino mystery shopping and I’m in between contracts because one of the casinos took my idea and ran with it internally…but considering I’ve never stated I own a business before…I would be really disappointed if that comment was meant as some sort of insult when I’ve been nothing but kind.

Hopefully I just read more into it than what was meant.

I was reading the comment about giving an employee 3 to 5 times for a theft warning. Reminds me of a time years ago at one of my restaurants. We caught a pregnant server stealing. When the manager called me I discovered that he was the only witness. At the labor board the employer is often the bad guy before any evidence is presented so I said don’t do anything. About three weeks later the manager, and 3 other employees witnessed another theft incidence with this same pregnant employee. We terminated her immediately.

First up was the conference with the labor board after she filed a complaint. After we presented our evidence and witnesses the labor rep asked us if we didn’t think we should have warned her before terminating. I responded that “we should warn people that they might into trouble if they steal”? What a great deterrent. How about one warning if people commit armed robbery or kill someone? That would surely be a solution to change a bad habit would it not?

Next up was a claim that we fired her because she was pregnant. Many man hours and a couple of months later we turned up 25 employees in various stages of pregnancy at our different locations. There was no suggestion that we should have warned her that getting pregnant might cause her to take time off from work.

Then the girl gets an attorney (a public attorney meaning paid for by our tax dollars) and files a civil suit. A couple of months into that my attorney calls and says he has good news and bad news. The good news was that we were absolutely and indisputably on the right side and would win in court. The bad news is that it would cost about $20,000 to go through the process. This was about 1980 when $20,000 was serious money. The galling part is that he said we could walk away by giving her a check for $3,000 to $5,000 as a settlement. He said the case was costing her nothing out of pocket so she would see it through. We did and we were out about 5k for her check and my attorney fees.

I never again have terminated anybody for theft. In the instance of this subject if a person cannot count change properly then that simply disqualifies them for the position and their employment. Attempting to prove that somebody is stealing, or has stolen from you, is a very difficult path to take. Not only do you have to fight the labor board but you open yourself up to a lawsuit afterwards.

Long story but I paid a lot of money for the lesson and its free information. Sometimes it is difficult to remember that the objective is to remove an element that is damaging your business. It is all to easy to get caught up in the indignation, the anger and the fact that you are right and somebody is stealing and endangering your business. I learned that it is important to get above it, remember the objective, take care of the problem in the easiest manner and get on with life. It is not relevant to my business but I believe that life has a way of providing its own punishment to dishonest people.