Woman fired after company uses keystroke technology to see how she's working from home
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An Australian woman was fired from her job after 18 years when her boss used keystroke technology to check how much work she was actually doing.
One of the biggest insurance companies in Australia had a claim of unfair dismissal made against them rejected after it was judged that there was a 'valid reason of misconduct' to let an employee go.
Australia's Fair Work Commission (FWC) found that Insurance Australia Group (IAG) consultant Suzie Cheikho had missed deadlines and meetings, been difficult to contact and had cost her employer a fine after failing to complete a task.
The woman was supposed to create insurance documents, hit regulatory timelines and keep an eye on 'work from home compliance'.
However, she herself was tripped up after she received a warning last year about her output at work and as part of attempts to improve her performance her employer used keystroke technology to monitor how much she was complying with her own targets while working from home.
Now anyone who's worked from home will know the urge to step away from the desk for a bit and do something else.
Even if it's doing a bit of hoovering or washing up the dirty dishes from breakfast, taking a few minutes away from the keyboard while working from home is pretty common.
However, Cheikho's work activity on 49 days between October and December 2022 were monitored and the results were quite stark.
The review found that she started late on 47 days and finished early on 29 of the days when she was being monitored.
On four of the days she was found to have done no hours of work at all, and on the days when she was working she was accused of not doing very much.
On average she was pressing her keyboard 54 times an hour during the periods in which she was being monitored.
When confronted with this information, Cheikho said she did 'not believe for a minute' that the data generated by keystroke technology was accurate, telling her managers she had 'never not worked'.
Describing herself as 'confused and shocked' at the data, she said personal issues had caused a decline in her mental health, which she believes impacted her work.
She said she informed her managers whenever she had to take time out of the working day to make a medical appointment and argued that she made up the time afterwards.
In the ruling which dismissed her claims of unfair dismissal, FWC deputy president Thomas Roberts said he had 'little doubt that the factors underlying the applicant’s disconnection from work were serious and real'.
He said it was a 'regrettable' situation and noted her 'long period of satisfactory service' before being dismissed but felt like it was 'not harsh, unjust or unreasonable' for her to be fired.