Liar, Liar, Job on Fire
When an employee falsifies any records for any reason, whether it’s time sheets, doctor’s notes, travel expense reports, etc.: in my experience as a Human Resources practitioner, it’s pretty black and white: it’s theft of company resources, grounds for immediate termination.
Moreover, in my HR travels: if an employee is stealing company time by falsifying a time sheet indicating time worked when in fact they were, say, sleeping in a warehouse rack location on a pallet 30 feet above the cement floor (a double-play of theft of company time and violating safety rules, both gross / willful conduct violations each worthy of immediate termination), that lack of integrity is usually just the tip of the internal-loss iceberg, an indicator of other internal theft / loss prevention issues, e.g. the theft of company money and/or property.
Now, we may debate that I lean towards the hard-ass side, reminiscent of my Marine-Corps-trained dad. Before we debate too deeply, the following true story of employee falsification and theft of time is submitted for your consideration, straight from the New York State Inspector General’s press release last week and quoted by The Times Union:
“Acting State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott today announced the arrest of a New York State Department of Health employee on felony charges, accusing him of submitting an application for handicapped parking supported by a forged doctor’s note. He also was charged with filing paperwork certifying he was working when he was not.
[The employee was arrested] by investigators from the New York State Inspector General’s Office and charged with four felony counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree and one misdemeanor count of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Third Degree. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.
The Inspector General’s investigation determined that in May of 2011, [the employee] obtained special parking privileges at his work location at Empire State Plaza based on a forged doctor’s note. In addition, Defendant admitted that on three separate occasions in January and February of 2012, he submitted certified time records indicating that he had worked full days when he had not reported to work at all. (Emphasis mine.)
“New Yorkers have every right to expect that state employees will comport themselves with the highest degree of honesty and integrity,” said Acting Inspector General Scott. “Fraudulently obtaining handicapped parking not only is unlawful, but potentially inhibits the rights of New Yorkers with disabilities in need of accessible parking. Further, any fraudulent abuse of time and attendance records undermines public trust. Such conduct is not tolerable.”
[The employee] was arraigned today before Town of New Scotland Judge David Wukitsch and held in County Jail in lieu of $10,000 cash or bond.
[The employee] has worked for the Department of Health as an Information Technology Specialist II since 2007. His current salary is $58,311.00.
Acting Inspector General Scott thanked the New York State Police for their assistance in the case and the Albany County District Attorney’s Office for the prosecution of this matter.
The defendant is innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.”
The debate on whether falsifying time sheets, doctor’s notes, travel expense reports, etc. is theft takes a bit of interesting turn when it’s money from the pockets of New York State taxpayers that’s being filched. That outrage that you may feel at having your hard-earned tax dollars unlawfully stolen is underscored by the felony charges of forgery filed by the NYS Inspector General’s office. Not to mention the reputational damage to the accused employee, his managers and the NYS Department of Health.
Upholding and enforcing true / accurate records protects the reputations and assets of everyone in your organization, including but not limited to promoting to industry those employees who will not / cannot follow those standards of integrity. You can handle the truth, and so can your colleagues, executives, managers and employees.