This article is the latest on the topic from an Employment lawyer point of view.
I would like to point out from an Employee point of view that there has to be sufficient quantitative work in order to keep staff fully occupied - all the time. However, many companies are not that diligent either due to the nature of work or normal delays in operational processes that are beyond their control.
There is no law as such in anti surfing other than court cases against wrongful dismissal where attention to ones task has been used as evidence. But these cases are for senior management not the normal worker as they would just be fired or disciplined accordingly.
Employers must beware of the time wasters
Ways to make staff accountable for time away from the office
Howard Levitt, Financial Post
Published: Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Employees surfing Facebook cost employers more than $5-billion a year, according to a recent study.
However, cruising social networking sites and chat lines are only some of the myriad ways in which employees steal their employers' time.
Truancy, tardiness and absenteeism all constitute time theft from an employer, but so does engaging in unauthorized personal activities during business hours.
Although the courts have not yet treated it as strictly as the other time issues, the consequences are equally onerous.
Close monitoring of employees is often the only effective method to prevent such daily dalliances. Many employers delude themselves into believing micro-management is unnecessary. They are the ones most likely to be victimized.
The reality is few employees share their employers' dedication to their jobs. The statistics are illuminating: workplace theft exceeds $120-billion; fraud costs $20- billion; and embezzlement runs $4-billion.
Time theft is particularly rampant in sales positions where there is minimal employee supervision or accountability.
This is especially true if there is a guaranteed salary and the employees have considerable autonomy and are frequently out of the office, purportedly to prospect or meet clients. In reality, some of these employees are not meeting with clients or otherwise filling their sales funnel but are playing golf, spending time with their families or otherwise fulfilling personal agendas. This can be avoided by offering a primarily bonus- and commission- based remuneration.
Employers should also implement systems requiring accountability, such as calendars delineating out-of-office appointments, including who the employee is meeting with and why; meetings with sales employees to suggest appropriate followup for each appointment; and sanctioning employees who are either dishonest in their renditions or fail to meet their quotas for appointments and sales.
As well, do not permit employees to work from home except in the most extraordinary of circumstances.
Although teleworking is the flavour of the times, in my experience, most employers quickly regret approving it as they see productivity sag and accountability disintegrate.
Those who are permitted to telecommute should be placed on an entirely performance- based remuneration.
Employer policy manuals should have zero tolerance for employee theft, with specific reference to time theft.
The recession has created an employers' market, which makes it much easier for them to replace indolent employees with productive ones.
TO AVOID LOSSES FROM THE ONSET, EMPLOYERS SHOULD DO THE FOLLOWING:
- Place more weight on commission and bonuses than on a guaranteed base salary;
- Implement a system of reporting and accountability so employers are aware of employees' whereabouts during work hours;
- Implement and circulate a zero-tolerance policy on employee theft, encompassing time theft; and,
- Provide disciplinary sanctions, including termination, for employees who fail to adhere to a reasonable system of accountability.
- Howard Levitt, counsel to Lang Michener LLP, is an employment lawyer who practises in eight provinces and is author of several texts, including The Law of Dismissal for Human Resources Professionals, recently released. He can be reached at [email protected] langmichener.ca.
© The Windsor Star 2009