Woman pays company back after software catches her slacking

by Ana Lopez

A Canadian court has ordered a female worker to pay back her employer after her laptop’s software showed she wasted time on the company’s money.

Karlee Besse, who worked remotely as an accountant for Reach CPA in British Columbia, was charged with “time theft” and must pay $2,459.89 in back wages.

Besse had initially sued her company for wrongful termination, seeking $5,000 in damages. But in court, Reach CPA revealed that they tracked their employees’ actions using TimeCamp, which collects information about how employees spend their time.

Through the software, the company proved that Besse spent more than 50 hours on non-work-related tasks. According to a report in The protectorReached CPA “Identified irregularities between her [Besse’s] timesheets and software usage logs.”

Besse argued that she had printed out hard copies of documents she was working on, and that was why the software didn’t keep track of her work. But the company pointed out that the software was also monitoring its printing activity — and she hadn’t printed many documents.

Related: 78% of employers use remote work tools to spy on you. Here’s a more effective (and ethical) approach to tracking employee productivity.

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Bossware is watching

Software such as TimeCamp is increasingly used by companies that want to monitor the work of their employees. A questionnaire Digital.com found that 60% of companies with remote workers use monitoring software to track employee activity and productivity.

So-called “bossware” exploded after Covid as companies looked for ways to ensure their remote workers were as productive and safe at home as they were in the office. Companies claim that they use the software to run more efficient businesses.

Companies are also able to catch employees engaging in disgraceful behavior. According to Digital.com, 88% of employers have fired employees after implementing monitoring software.

But many employees and unions believe the software is nothing more than industrial espionage. Last November, the National Labor Relations Board, an independent federal agency that protects the rights of private sector workers, announced they wanted to “crush” companies that use bossware.

“Close, constant surveillance and management by electronic means threatens workers’ basic ability to exercise their rights,” General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo wrote in the memo.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center, a nonprofit that has been working on the issue for years, says bosware goes far beyond just tracking work hours.

“Internet monitoring and filtering, email monitoring, instant message monitoring, automatic time tracking, phone monitoring, location monitoring, personality and psychological testing, and keystroke logging” are all part of bossware, it says.

Karlee Besse found out the hard way.

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