Falsification of Timesheets

I am a local employer and it has come to my attention that one of my employees is not completing his time sheet accurately. We write down the time that we enter the premises for work and when we leave. I have noticed that the employee sometimes leaves a couple of minutes early, but puts the time down he is supposed to finish. Can I take any action over this?

Answer:

Thank you very much for your question. Falsification of timesheets is a very serious matter even if it is only a couple of minutes. What this employee is doing potentially amounts to dishonesty and theft, in that they appear to be acting deliberately to mislead you and accepting payment for time they have not worked. There are a couple of issues here. One being that he is leaving early, the other is that he is misrepresenting what time he leaves on his time sheets.

In relation to the leaving early, this is a potential disciplinary offence but, it may be difficult to discipline in the first instance, especially if there is a custom and practice of “knocking off” early amongst staff. However, if all the staff follow the rules and this employee is the only one who is leaving early, then it might be appropriate to take disciplinary action.

The matter of the falsification of timesheets is a more serious one and this could be classed as gross misconduct. Employers can often dismiss employees in the first instance where they have committed an act of gross misconduct. Whether this would be reasonable in this case will depend on the circumstances.

You should always ensure that you investigate any disciplinary issues properly and carry out a fair disciplinary procedure before you make any decision about whether or not to discipline or dismiss. Remember, sometimes employees have genuine explanations as to why they have acted in a particular way, which might mean that disciplining is not the best idea.

We often get questions about timekeeping. We advise that it is good practice to have a robust timekeeping and attendance policy in place which sets out what you expect from employees and the consequences if they do not stick to this! Your disciplinary policy should make it clear that theft and dishonesty are both classed as gross misconduct. Finally, and most importantly, you should ensure that everyone knows about the policies and follows them. You will have difficulty relying on them if, on a day to day basis, these are not followed or policed.

Please do get in touch and we can discuss this matter further.

Coronavirus

Our employment team has received (and continues to receive) a large number of requests for help from companies who would like assistance with interpreting the ongoing changes to the furlough scheme and/or who are advance planning for when the furlough scheme comes to an end.  Some of this planning may involve consideration of short-time working or even redundancies and some involves dealing with specific concerns that returning employees may have about health and safety or about childcare and other obligations.

We have produced a number of factsheets for our employer clients which explain the Government guidance and which provide some practical guidance on how to deal with some of these matters.

If you have any specific queries about ending your furlough scheme or need any assistance with restructuring your business in light of the ongoing economic difficulties caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, please e-mail Steve Walker at s.walker@livingstons.co.uk or Gail Black at g.black@livingstons.co.uk.

Full details of how we are dealing with Coronavirus are available here.

We will do everything possible to keep disruption to a minimum during this difficult time.