Experts warn that the problem of time theft at work is on the rise
Working in a place like a movie theater, employees can encounter a lot of downtime.
“You can’t just let them twiddle their thumbs in the office, so they might as well watch the movie there,” says Kevin Marshall, owner of the O’Brien Movie Theater in Arnprior, Ontario.
Despite the laid-back nature of the job, Marshall never thought his employees were stealing time from his company while they were working.
“At least they can watch the movie while they’re there, make sure everything’s okay, the sound quality is okay, nobody’s making a fuss.”
But as employees return to the office after working from home, employment experts say the concept of time theft is on the rise.
“If an employer pays an employee for time, they should be working,” said employment lawyer Alex Lucifero, a partner at Samfiru Tumarkin.
Lucifero says time theft happens when that employee isn’t working, isn’t productive, or is doing personal tasks instead.
“Perhaps the classic example of time theft is when an employee checks in or out early or late and doesn’t work at those times.”
Human Resources consultant Lisa Kay of Peak Performance HR says time theft needs to be defined in each individual workplace and there’s a difference between a minor distraction and stolen time.
“The line is drawn consistently,” Kay said.
“If a behavior becomes a habit and someone does it all the time, so every day they spend two hours of their day on Netflix, that’s a problem. Or someone who spends most of the day surfing the web or on dating websites. of their work.”
“If my staff wants to do homework or work on another project or something while they’re here and there’s nothing left to do, everything else is done, I have absolutely no problem with that,” Marshall said.
Recently, a British Columbia accountant was ordered to pay $1,500 back to her employer for more than 50 hours of wasted time.
In Ontario, any employer with at least 25 employers must now notify its employees if they are being monitored electronically.
Lucifero says to punish employees, employers must be able to prove time was stolen.
“It is difficult for an employer to show reasons for dismissal,” says the employment lawyer.
“However, I believe time theft could be one of those situations, if it’s significant.”