Worker juggling second job fired for manipulating time sheet

Employee entered incorrect times on timesheet many times over a long period of time
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 06/25/2014

A British Columbia company had just cause to fire an employee who punched in incorrect start and leave times for her shift, an arbitrator has ruled.

Parveen Gill was a licensed practical nurse for the Fraser Health Authority, first at a general hospital before moving to a home support facility and then the Abbotsford Regional Hospital in Abbotsford, B.C.

In January 2012, Gill became a licensing officer in Burnaby and Delta, B.C. Her duties included conducting investigations and health facilities and child-care operations, featuring large case loads and independent work. When Gill was hired as a licensing officer, she was also working part-time at two other facilities. She eventually resigned from one and continued to work the other — at a home support facility — on weekends.

Licensing officers had some flexibility in the hours if necessary, but if they wanted to vary from their regular hours — such as staying late to finish an inspection — they had to advise the manager by email, text or phone call. Changing hours for personal reasons had to be considered depending on the impact to the operations, though sometimes licensing officers could work of home.

Each day, licensing officers were required to sign in and out on time sheets, which recorded hours worked and any changes.

In January 2013, Gill’s manager in Delta questioned some of the banked time Gill recorded on her time sheets. Gill said she thought she had more flexibility and said she would be more conscientious, though she was allowed to vary her schedule by small amounts of time or skip a coffee break so she could leave early.

In February 2013, Gill moved to a new licensing officer position at the Abbotsford Hospital, but didn’t mention the part-time position at the home support facility.

In May, Gill’s new manager was contacted by Gill’s manager at the home support facility, who sent the Abbotsford manager Gill’s schedule as a home support worker. Out of 37 shifts on the schedule, 29 started before the end of Gill’s licensing officer shift that day. On the others, the home support shift started shortly after a licensing officer shift.

Gill’s new manager interviewed her about the situation in June. Gill asserted she had mentioned the other jobs during her initial interview for a licensing officer position and thought there was flexibility to vary hours as long as eight hours were worked. In a second interview, Gill couldn’t explain all the dates, but said she made some errors on the time sheets. She initially agreed to provide her cellphone records but then refused over privacy concerns.

The health authority obtained a report from its alarm company to check to see if Gill deactivated the alarms at the times indicated on her time sheets that she began work. On seven days her home support shift started before her licensing officer shift ended, Gill claimed she started work early so she could leave early. However, on all seven days, another employee deactivated the alarm after the time she said she started work. On some other days, Gill deactivated the alarm but it ranged from three to 22 minutes after her indicated start time.

On June 24, 2013, the health authority advised Gill of the alarm code reports and terminated her employment. Gill filed a grievance, saying when she applied for the licensing officer position, the manager was aware of her other job and she had discussed with her other manager about making it work “by shift swaps, leaves of absence or allowing her to arrive late” for the home care job. She also reiterated she thought there was flexibility as long as she worked eight hours.

The arbitrator found Gill didn’t intend to mislead the health authority about her second job. Although she didn’t mention it specifically in her initial interview for the licensing officer job, she didn’t try to hide it and had talked to her other manager about accommodating her licensing officer shifts. In addition, Gill had used her manager at the home care facility as a reference.

The arbitrator also found Gill was used to flexibility for small variations in time with her previous manager, which she used to manage the two jobs. However, this still required entries on the time sheet to indicate she was banking time. She did not, and also entered false start time information — and was therefore dishonest with the employer — on at least eight occasions, said the arbitrator.

The false start times were clearly dishonest and not errors, because Gill was calculating time closely in order to balance her two jobs. If she did it honestly, she would be able to accurately enter her start times “if so desired,” said the arbitrator.

Since Gill was not a long-term employee, worked in a position that required independence and a “high element of trust,” and the dishonesty was repeated, the arbitrator found termination was appropriate. See Fraser Health Authority and BCGEU (Gill), Re, 2014 CarswellBC 1226 (B.C. Arb.).