Accountant Working Remotely Fired for 'Time Theft'

Tribunal orders Canadian woman to repay her employer for 50 hours
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 13, 2023 1:45 PM CST
Remote Worker Ordered to Repay $2K for 'Time Theft'
"Time theft in the employment context is viewed as a very serious form of misconduct," the ruling states.   (Getty Images/undrey)

The experience of an accountant in Canada who failed to properly account for time she was paid to work at home might be a cautionary tale for other remote workers. A tribunal has ordered the British Columbia resident to repay her former employer almost $2,000 plus interest for "time theft," the CBC reports. The BC Civil Resolution Tribunal rejected Karlee Besse's claim that she had been unfairly fired and was owed more than $3,700 in unpaid wages and severance, reports CTV. Her former employer, Reach CPA, said there was 50.76 hours that Besse logged on timesheets that she "did not appear to have spent on work-related tasks." The tribunal was told that in February last year, around four months after Besse was hired, the company installed a tracking program called TimeCamp on her work laptop.

The software allowed Reach to determine how much time was spent on work-related activities, tribunal member Megan Stewart wrote in the decision. "For example, if Miss Besse had a streaming service like Disney Plus open, TimeCamp recorded its electronic pathway and how long the service was accessed," Stewart wrote. "As this was not activity associated with client work, Reach would classify it as personal. Similarly, if she accessed a client file, used software associated with client work, or printed client documents, TimeCamp recorded those electronic pathways and the time spent on each task, and Reach classified this as work activity." Reach said it reviewed timesheets and TimeCamp data after becoming concerned about projects that were overdue and over budget.

The company said Besse was fired for cause after a meeting to discuss the 50.76 hours that were unaccounted for. Besse argued that she had spent the time working with paper copies of client documents, but TimeCamp also records printing and the files show "she could not have printed the large volume of documents she would have needed to work on in hard copy," Stewart wrote. "Given that trust and honesty are essential to an employment relationship, particularly in a remote-work environment where direct supervision is absent, I find Miss Besse’s misconduct led to an irreparable breakdown in her employment relationship with Reach and that dismissal was proportionate in the circumstances," she wrote. (More remote working stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.