Time-sheet fiddling: GPS gadgetry helps bosses winkle out wayward workers

Whistle blower in the sky...

If you want to be a fiddler, do your fiddling in an Irish or bluegrass band.

That’s Alf’s advice to any of his constituents who might be tempted to cheat on their time sheets, although he is confident none of the voters of Eketahuna North come into this category.

He tenders the advice nevertheless in the aftermath of a case of a bloke who became somewhat wayward with his time keeping.

This bloke’s work records were not in tune with data recorded by the GPS computer in his company truck.

So he lost his job.

In the circumstances, it would have been smart for him to have left things at that.

But he obviously thought he had been hard done by, because he took a personal grievance case to the the outfit that deals with these matters.

Bad move. The sacking has been upheld and he has been ordered to pay wages back to the firm.

Almost $800.

The story is told at Stuff today –

George Maru was sacked by Whangarei firm McKay Electrical after bosses became suspicious of the hours he was clocking up.

Maru took a personal grievance case to the Employment Relationship Authority demanding reimbursement of wages and compensation.

But ERA member Ken Anderson ruled McKay Electrical carried out a full and fair investigation, and was justified in sacking Maru.

As jobs go, this one does not seem to have been too demanding.

As a line mechanic, his duties were to patrol at night checking for street lights on the blink.

The job was largely unsupervised. That’s got be a plus, when it comes to working conditions.

And we learn that Maru had ”a degree of flexibility as to when he started and finished work”.

But in April last year Peter Lingley, the manager of the company’s Hamilton branch, apparently got a tad curious.

He ordered a check of Maru’s time sheets for a month against data recorded on a GPS device in his company truck.

It’s instructive to note what this gadget can do.

Among other things, it shows whether the motor was turned on or off, idling, moving or stationary and the speed it was going and its location at any time of day.

McKay Electrical could download all that historical information from the vehicle.

And it found…

Oh, dear.

Maru had claimed to have worked full shifts – and put in for overtime – when the truck was parked at his home, suggesting he had knocked off early on some nights.

What’s more, it appeared Maru had used the vehicle for personal use without the company’s permission.

The GPS had blown the whistle.

But how widespread was this sort of fiddling?

The bosses checked all other employees, to see if there might be ”a culture within McKay Electrical of falsifying timesheets”.

Nope. Maru was ”the only person with such marked discrepancies”.

So what was his side of the story?

Maru gave several reasons for those discrepancies between his timesheets and the GPS records varying from the time it took his laptop computer to start each morning, to bad weather, doing paperwork, dropping his wife off and the need to wash the vehicle.

But in its internal investigation the company said it addressed all those points and discarded them as likely excuses.

It had no record Maru had ever complained about his computer, the timesheet check was in summer when weather was not a factor and there was no need to wash a company car every day.

After considering the case, Anderson has ruled:

”I find that a fair and reasonable employer faced with the evidence regarding Mr Maru’s timesheets and GPS records, and taking into account his implausible explanations for the discrepancies identified, would have concluded that his conduct deeply impaired or was destructive of the basic trust and confidence that is essential to the employment relationship.”

He upheld the sacking.

And he ordered Maru to pay back $788 for 30 hours claimed on his timesheet that he did not actually work.

Does Alf think that’s a bit steep?

Nah. He reckons you’ve got to be a greedy pig to tinker with your time sheets.

And he welcomes the role played by GPS.

As the old saw goes, a snitch on the supine snares swine.

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