FWC upholds termination of employee for submitting false work times
The Fair Work Commission has dismissed an unfair dismissal application from a female traffic controller, found to have falsely claimed work times when she was not present on her allocated worksites.
The worker, ‘JB’, had been employed by Verifact Traffic Control Pty Ltd (“Verifact”) as a Traffic Controller since December 2018 until her dismissal on 22 December 2021 following an investigation that identified discrepancies in the recording of her shift data.
JB contended before Deputy President Nicholas Lake that the penalty of termination was harsh, that there were flaws in the investigation, and that she was not afforded procedural fairness.
Verifact uses a data capture system, ‘Traffio’, where a work docket is prepared and electronically generated, the start and finish times are recorded and signed off by the employee’s Supervisor, and then the client signs the approval for the job at the end of the job. The company issued two notices in the period prior to JB’s dismissal to all employees regarding the importance of employees accurately recording their dockets.
On 4 November 2021, JB was identified leaving a site two and a half hours earlier than what was recorded on the docket as the finish time. She claimed that a client had requested her to travel to another site, although no record was made on the Traffio system.
Unsurprisingly, Verifact commenced an investigation of JB by monitoring traffic vehicle movements, recorded finish times, and the time the docket was generated.
The investigation identified 16 discrepancies over the following six-week period, where JB had claimed a total of an additional 25 hours and 45 minutes. The extra times claimed ranged in duration from 30 minutes to 5 hours.
During the subsequent show cause, JB failed to provide adequate explanations for the discrepancies, leading to her termination. She largely relied on claims that jobs often started earlier than the dockets indicated but could not provide substantiation.
Deputy President Lake acknowledged that the Commission has regularly found that misrepresenting time sheets is a valid reason for dismissal.
In this case, he noted,
“Even if her explanations are accepted, there were still large inconsistencies with the docket time and Mrs (B’s) actual finishing time. 12 out of 17 instances were at least 1 hour earlier than her finish time and 6 out of 17 inconsistencies were at least 1 hour and 45 minutes earlier than the docket finish time”.
Further, he noted,
“During the show cause meeting, the Applicant did not deny the conduct, nor was she remorseful or showed any contrition or acknowledge that she would record the dockets accurately in the future. The Applicant did not offer any apology or display any remorse for her conduct”.
Consequently, the Deputy President determined,
“Upon a balanced, objective and realistic evaluation of all the evidence relating to the dismissal, I find that the Respondent’s action in terminating the Applicant for fraudulently claiming time worked when she was not working was the correct decision”.
The application was dismissed.
For queries about workplace behaviour, allegations of misconduct, managing performance, or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 1300 925 529, 0417 622 178 or via email to email@example.com
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.