Terminated Worker Ordered to Pay Back Employer for 'Time Theft'

The company said tracking software revealed that she misrepresented about 51 hours of work.

For better or worse, remote work is no longer a novel concept, and many employers welcome it into their companies. But some employers cannot help but wonder whether or not their remote workers are working remotely.

Some companies have begun installing tracking software on remote workers’ computers to determine if work is being done. The topic has sparked debates, with critics calling it spying and an infringement of basic rights. 

Continuing the argument, one company in Canada terminated a worker based on tracking software data. They also thought they deserved some of their money back that they paid the worker, and a court agreed.

The company, accounting firm Reach CPA, claimed an application called TimeCamp revealed employee Karlee Besse was completing activities that Reach classified as not work related while on the clock and accused her of time theft. 

Besse said she was wrongfully dismissed and was owed $5,000 in unpaid wages and severance pay. Reach disagreed and filed a countersuit for wages they said were paid to Besse while she allegedly was not working.

After Reach installed the software on Besse’s work-issued laptop, which she knew about, they discovered a difference between Besse’s manually recorded time and the amount of time the software deemed her working. This difference added up to nearly 51 hours over about a month. 

TimeCamp uses screen-capture videos that track what documents a worker opens and how long they work on them.

Besse said she printed the documents in question and worked on the paper copies. But Reach wasn’t buying it and cited her printing activity, which TimeCamp also tracked. They also said she wouldn’t have been able to print the large volume of documents needed to work.

Online court Civil Resolution Tribunal said Besse’s dismissal was proportionate in the circumstances. Additionally, the court did not find Besse entitled to notice of dismissal or the claimed severance pay and allowed Reach’s claim for $1,506.34.

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