Remote work has changed the way people view their jobs. Working from home might mean more leeway when it comes to your work hours, but one Canadian woman is facing a hefty fine from a company that fired her after claiming she engaged in “time theft.”
Canadian Accountant Got Fired After Being Accused Of ‘Time Theft’
Karlee Besse worked remotely for Reach CPA, a Canadian accounting company. Last year, she was fired, and Besse claimed it was without “just cause.” However, her employers stated that she engaged in time theft and misrepresented the hours she was actually working.
Reach CPA used a time-tracking software system called TimeCamp, which makes note of the files that are accessed and how long a user is on the file. According to the TimeCamp records, Besse reported working 50 more hours than what was logged on the software system. A Canadian court ruled that she would have to pay $2,756 to Reach CPA .
Besse is fighting back, though, claiming that she struggled to use the software properly. She accessed the company computer for personal use during non-work hours—something her bosses okayed—and claimed TimeCamp did not differentiate between work and personal use.
She also said she spent a significant amount of time working with paper documents and didn’t want to tell her bosses because “they wouldn’t want to hear that.” However, TimeCamp also tracks employees’ printing and there is no record of Besse printing the documents she claims she made hard copies of.
When confronted about the different timesheets, Besse did admit she incorrectly logged her hours on TimeCamp, saying, “I’ve plugged time to files that I didn’t touch and that wasn’t right or appropriate in any way or fashion, and I recognize that and so for that I’m really sorry” (per NPR).
The Battle Between WFH Employees And Employers
The Canadian courts ruled in Reach CPA’s favor and gave Besse 30 days to pay back the accounting firm, but this incident has opened up a discussion about employers and employees’ work-from-home relationships.
Many companies claim that they have a right to know what their employees are doing while on the clock or with company property. However, workers argue that tracking computer activity is intrusive and will encourage workplace surveillance both at home and in the office.
There are also concerns about the software tools companies use, with some employees pointing out that glitches or user errors could make it seem like they hadn’t actually worked the hours they put in.
The pandemic changed the way people around the world work and the business world is struggling to keep up with work-from-home systems. Time-tracking software is one way for employers to regulate what their workers are doing, but it’s clear there are still issues to figure out in the work-from-home world.