Failure to use technology to record start and finish times legitimate grounds for dismissal

Failure to use technology to record start and finish times legitimate grounds for dismissal

The Fair Work Commission has upheld the dismissal of an employee who persistently failed to clock on and off using a mobile phone application (commonly referred to as an ‘app’) to record her start and finish times and length of shift. The ruling confirmed the responsibility of employees to comply with organisational policies and requirements, particularly regarding timekeeping.

The employee was engaged as a casual cleaner by Mermaid Services Pty Ltd (the employer) from May 2020 until her dismissal on 6 October 2021.

The company dismissed her because of her constant failure to record her work times on a smartphone application called ‘Humanforce’.

The company claimed that the employee downloaded the Humanforce application onto her personal mobile phone in her initial onboarding and was shown how to record and submit times. She was also provided with a handbook that explains how to clock on and off. The position description provided to her explained that it was the employee’s responsibility to clock on and off before and after each shift.

She successfully clocked on and off 147 times during her employment, but this only amounted to one-third of the shifts she completed. When she failed to clock on and off, she would send a text message to her supervisor, resulting in additional manual administrative work being undertaken by Human Resources.

The company stated that amongst its workforce of 250 employees, she was the only employee who had to have her work hours manually checked before her fortnightly pay was processed. The employer spoke to her on many occasions to remind her of her timekeeping obligations.

Ultimately, the employer terminated her employment.

The employee claimed that her dismissal was unfair because she had not been trained properly to use the phone application and that the application often did not work.

Deputy President Alan Colman, in his determination, did not agree with her submission.

The Deputy President noted the training she was provided and that it was a condition of her employment that she clocked on and off using the application. He acknowledged the employer’s records which showed that she failed,

“to use the application to log on and off on approximately two thirds of her rostered shifts during her period of employment…Some employees occasionally had a technical difficulty. But no other employees had persistent difficulties with the application. It is implausible that any persistent fault would affect only Ms (V)….I find that Ms (V) was not diligent in using the application”.

Further, the Deputy President noted,

“It is important to consider whether the company’s decision to dismiss Ms (V) was proportionate to the reason for dismissal. Clearly, it was. Ms (V) was required always to use the application to clock on and off. She persistently failed to do so. The company did not acquiesce in her conduct. Ms (V) was told on numerous occasions that she needed consistently to use the application to clock on and off. The company was very patient with her. In the end, the patience understandably ran out”.

The Deputy President dismissed the application.

AV v Mermaid Cleaning Services Pty Ltd (U2021/9555) 19 February 2022

For questions about record-keeping, employee obligations, training, or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 1300 WAL LAW, 0417 622 178 or via email to dean.cameron@workforceadvisory.com.au

Disclaimer: This information is provided as general advice on workplace relations and employment law. It does not constitute legal advice, and it is always advisable to seek further information regarding specific workplace issues. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

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