Time sheet fiddling is a common reason for dismissal that crops up from time to time. I have been involved in a couple of falsifying time sheet cases recently. Maybe the recession is causing employees to feel the need to take risks they wouldn’t normally.
Dismissal Requirements Concerning Time Sheet Fiddling
Before dismissing for falsifying time sheets employers must conduct a reasonable investigation as per the requirements of BHS v Burchell. Even if the employee admits falsifying his time sheets, employers should still carry out a reasonable investigation into the excusesexplanations the employee gives, again to comply with BHS v Burchell.
Should an employer hire a private investigator?
Does hiring a private investigator amount to a reasonable investigation? I would say it does – the investigator is independent so doesn’t have an axe to grind and will provide a report including a summary of the employee’s movements and often photographs to confirm these movements. I think it is reasonable for an employer to form a belief that the employee has fiddled his timesheets if his timesheet does not match his movements as shown by the private investigator’s report.
In McGowen v Scottish Water, the EAT considered whether hiring a private investigator breached Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to a private life). The EAT concluded that as timesheet fiddling was involved, such surveillance was proportionate to protect the employer’s interests and the employee’s dismissal was not unfair.