There’s a good chance you may have seen our company in the news recently. The story about a court case after we let an employee go has been told numerous times and internationally. While the events that have transpired are unfortunate, we would like to take this opportunity to clarify some points that have been misrepresented in the media and taken out of context online.
As an employer, we value and appreciate our team, so it’s never easy to let anyone go. Considering the circumstances and our workplace culture rooted in trust, it was a decision we didn’t make lightly, but a decision we had to make, nonetheless.
We have the utmost respect for our employees
It is widely believed that upon letting go of this employee we promptly sued the individual – this is simply not true. After the employee was terminated for time theft, she sued us for wrongful dismissal, to which we filed a counterclaim. The decision to terminate this employee was the discipline warranted for her actions and suing after the fact, in this case, would’ve been disrespectful and unnecessary.
We value the privacy of our employees
At Reach CPA, we value the privacy of our employees. We also want to make sure they have the tools they need to do the job right and with minimal stress. That’s why, when the former employee expressed her troubles in properly keeping track of her time, TimeCamp software was suggested. Reach paid for the licence and the employee voluntarily installed the software on her device.
TimeCamp is an AI-based management software that tracks how a computer is being used and allocates time appropriately. It assists workers in being able to allocate the time spent on projects whereas without it they may forget to push go on the timer. This software is not required for our remote workers and only a handful of employees use it.
Only after we noticed a number of red flags in the reporting of her time spent on projects did we investigate further. After the matter went to court, it was determined we would need to provide evidence of the employee’s wrongdoings. It was then that we decided to take screen recordings of the TimeCamp software as there is no function to print reports (that we are aware of). TimeCamp does not record a user’s device.
We appreciate our employee’s ability to perform self-directed work and to report on that work. Fostering an environment of trust and allowing our employees to work at their own pace not only improves their performance but creates a workplace where they feel valued and respected. Part of this is respecting our employee’s privacy. We do not spy on their computers to make sure what they say is truthful. That understanding is in place until an action forces us to believe otherwise.
Unfortunately, the former employee violated this mutual understanding when, over the course of the one month that they had TimeCamp installed, they falsely reported over 50 hours they hadn’t worked.
We value our clients
The beauty of having long-lasting relationships with our clients is we are able to compare current invoices to those done in the past. We always take a critical look when reviewing invoices, which are largely based on whether there were significant changes to the level of service provided. This helps us to ensure that we are charging the correct and fair amount on every invoice, despite the amount of time spent on the project.
In doing so, we were able to catch the time theft of the employee early and minimize the effect it had on our clients. We would also like to clarify that this is not a case of, “I left a half hour early but clocked out as usual.” This was an employee who claimed to work hours on documents that she did not open and, in one proven instance, documents that had not even been created.
We will continue to respect the privacy of our employees
The topics of employee privacy, respect and trust are very important to us here at Reach, whether an employee works from home or at the office. Our remote work environment works well for us and our employees love the flexibility it provides. Regular meetings are held so the team can touch base and reflect on how productive we were the previous day. It’s not uncommon for someone to say they didn’t work much the day before because they felt unwell or simply because life happened.
We wholeheartedly value this transparency and not only is it accepted it’s also encouraged. A workplace that fosters an honest approach allows our team members to work whenever, however and wherever it works for them and we find it increases their productivity – and their overall happiness.
Our staff are our first priority
Though it is an unfavourable situation for everyone involved, we have taken it as an opportunity to share our workplace culture and how we value our employees. We recognize that the people who work for us are human beings with lives outside of accounting. Through open communication, respect and trust, we are able to support our employees however they need and in turn, they provide outstanding service to our clients.
When an employee broke our culture of trust by misrepresenting the amount of work they performed, it hurt everyone involved – their coworkers and our clients. The lack of work resulted in the rest of the team picking up the slack during the busiest time of the year. Though our team was able to navigate this situation without missing any deadlines, it is not the kind of work environment that we have worked so hard to achieve.
The bottom line is that we respect our employees and their privacy, and trust in their ability to get the job done, however, it works best for them.
Anyone that wants to read the official court decision can view it here