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I'm a team-lead in my company's IT department and I have five persons reporting to me. My team are regularly required to stand by after office hours to support certain activities.

For these after-hour activities, staff can submit claims and they will be compensated in form of cash credited to their salary, OR if they work for more than 6 hours after hours, they can apply for 1 day leave, to be credited to their leave entitlement. Once a staff member has submitted their claims to me, I have to review it and then post it to the head of the department for approval before it reaches HR.

There is a particular staff member whom I have found to have falsified his claims on two occasions. The first incident occurred when he claimed that he worked 4 hours, when he only worked 3 hours based on his email status update. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and let it slip.

The second incident prompted me to review the door access card log from the building's management. I found that he claimed an additional 1 hour 30 minutes after he had tagged out from the office. I rejected his claim and reminded him that his claims were not right, based on the email status update that he sent out. He corrected it and re-submitted his claim.

As of last Friday, he submitted a falsified claim again. I have verified it against the access card log. I have yet to approve his claim or speak to him.

How do I approach him on this matter?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 16 down vote accepted

You're a team lead, not a nanny. You don't want to be in the business of checking badge and vpn logs. What a waste of your time and energy!

I've been through this. It can damage a department and a company when people abuse the overtime rules. I learned that the hard way. The red flag for me is the employee quickly seizing on the idea that he could begin working from home.

This kind of thing can spread out quickly. If one employee starts pulling shenanigans, others will start doing it too. A company culture based on mutual respect and honesty is a far better place to work long term than one where "certain people get away with stuff" and you're always asking "has anyone see Joe lately?" because Joe is "allowed" to work from home.

If this person's work is so valuable to you and your company that you're willing to put up with timesheet shenanigans, I strongly suggest you give him a pay increase and put him on straight salary. That is, put him in a professional-grade position where he doesn't get paid by the hour for overtime. Get rid of the need for shenanigans and recognize his professional status.

You've made sure this is no misunderstanding. That's good.

Don't worry about being firm with this person. Simply say, "I saw that your timesheets don't match up with your building entry/exit records. We can't have that in the future." Clearly inform the employee that it must not happen again under any circumstances. Tell him he he must not submit pay claims unless he was actually in the building and actually working.

DO NOT, in this case, agree to let the employee claim for hours in which he worked from home. He's already (a) being very sloppy or (b) filing false timesheets. You don't want more monitoring headaches. If you do want to pay him overtime for working from home, tell him he can start doing that in six months if all goes well in the meantime.

If it happens again go to your manager or human resources person, and find out the policy on overtime / off hours pay. Let your manager and human resources person know you have a problem. Ask for advice on what to do. Tell them, if it's true, that you are not yet ready to dismiss this employee.

By the way, if you decide to dismiss this employee, there is no need for a long dismissal process. The man has been stealing. So don't worry about building a complex case with a series of written warnings. Three or four fraudulent timesheets are plenty for your HR department to work with.

Courage! This is a tough part of supervising people, but it's part of maintaining a healthy workplace.

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+1 for This is a tough part of supervising people, but it's part of maintaining a healthy workplace alone. It can be very destructive to a team to see things like this go on unchecked. –  RobM Apr 27 at 13:21
    
Thanks for your feedback, sir! –  Jim Lee Apr 27 at 13:55
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This answer also brushes up against the reason for the faking. If someone feels undervalued or underpaid, they can be motivated to take care of that problem themselves with a bonus hour here and there. You don't want to reward theft with a raise, but it may be useful to ask yourself why a generally good person feels the desire to do this at all? –  Kate Gregory Apr 27 at 13:57
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-1, for the suggestion that employees who use the options provided by their workplace fully (such as taking the opportunity to work from home) are raising a "red flag". Offering employees an option which is not genuinely seen as an option is a great way to build an unhealthy workplace. –  user17777 Apr 28 at 7:46
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@HLGEM NO. If you feel someone is cheating you, then there are (or should be) formal disciplinary procedures in place for that. Just suspecting people, and changing their work privileges based on that, is MESSED UP, and a recipe for disaster. Don't hire people you don't trust, but once hired, treat them with respect, and EQUALITY. –  user17777 May 24 at 13:37

Have you made sure that this is not simply a misunderstanding? It could be that after the mail status update het spent additional time. Or after he tagged out that he did more work at home.

If it turns out there is no satisfactory explanation of the staff members side, I would make clear to the member that this is not acceptable. After another incident I would ask your HR department what the route is for issuing an official warning. This is a first step towards building a case against an employee if at some time the company wants to terminate the staff member.

I would be very much recommend you try and solve this issue with the staff member personally. No one has anything to gain from a lengthy firing procedure. But if someone is not adhering to company policy, and persists in it after repeated warnings, this might be the only way.

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Thanks for your feedback. When I rejected his claim and spoke to him about it, he did not made it known to me that he did extra work / working from home. Also, thanks for giving me an idea. I believe I could also validate future claims based on VPN logs. I do not wish to terminate him. Apart from these claims, his work performance is satisfactory. I am worried that such claims will only lead to questions from HR or internal audit and it may impact me as their team lead. As of now I am clueless on how to initiate a talk with him about this matter. –  Jim Lee Apr 27 at 10:24
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I'd simply ask him what happened, not in an accusing way. See what he says, and take it from there. If his work is satisfactory, and you are worried what will happen when you start asking questions, you could simply let it slide. –  Paul Hiemstra Apr 27 at 11:58
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I don't think "letting it slide" because their work is otherwise satisfactory is viable. Persistently filling in timesheets to claim for hours not worked is effectively stealing from the company and its extremely disrespectful to the OP as a team leader who has already caught the employee and called them out over that to continue to do so. Saying its ok to persistently defraud the employer because their work is otherwise good is like saying He's not bigoted, apart from his deeply held racist beliefs. And if the OP knows it goes on and lets it slide, they are effectively saying it is ok. –  RobM Apr 27 at 13:25
    
I agree with this. You jumped to a LOT of conclusions, based on when an email was sent. It's ridiculous behaviour for a manager, to be honest: you have to bear in mind that you have power over people's careers, and that anything you say carries a LOT of weight. With great power, comes great responsibility. Your responsibility to your employee is to consider all the possibilities, question your own mindset and motivations carefully, consider the employee's position, discuss, and make sure there are no misunderstandings before drawing conclusions and taking action. –  user17777 Apr 28 at 7:50
    
@JimLee - I feel for you. This person has placed you between a rock and a hard place. In my eyes the fact this has happen 3 times indicates something larger at play. If you have the power to revoke this privilege of working additional time I would do that. Does the company have a written policy on timesheets? Are you allowed to for instance give yourself 15 minutes to gather your things at the end of the day on the clock or is that something thats done off the clock? –  Ramhound Apr 28 at 15:25

You need to firstly make sure that you are and the employee concerned are in absolutely clear agreement as to what constitutes work and what does not. If your employee could possibly have been signing out of the building then continuing to work from home for the remainder of the time then you need to stop monitoring the time they leave the building as this isn't relevant.

If, however, they're absolutely not working during the times they've said they are and you've already spoken to them about this, as you say then you do have a serious issue. By ignoring your earlier talk they are essentially putting you in a position where you either become complicit in their actions if you continue to not formally discipline them (if you continue to not take action while you know this goes on it makes it more difficult for you to take action later), or you have to speak to them again more strongly, and continue down this road even if it leads to a formal process which you've said you don't want to do.

Of the two choices, I would certainly prefer the latter one in your position. Failing to address this issue is not good for the team overall. As for consequences for you as a team leader your own managers should support you in this matter.

You will do yourself (and possibly the employee too) far more serious damage, in fact, if you continue not to deal with this properly and HR or a more senior manager does eventually find out that this employee faked timesheets and you you knowingly signed off on fraudlent timesheets.

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