Time’s up for schedule-falsifying B.C. nurse

Health care staffer fired after fudging time records to work part-time at other hospitals

TIME HAS FINALLY caught up to a nurse in British Columbia who was fudging timekeeping records.

Parveen Gill, a licensed practical nurse, had worked at four worksites under the Fraser Health Authority before she was fired for falsifying her reporting time. She was employed on a casual and part-time basis at the Chilliwack General Hospital and Valley Home Support facility when she successfully applied to be a licensing officer at one of the operations in Delta, B.C. Working simultaneously at those three worksites meant she was covered by three collective agreements.

When interviewing for the licensing officer position, Gill mentioned the possibility of work on weekends, and her interviewer said it would be fine — as long as it did not interfere with her role and duties as a licensing officer.

Because that position required inspection times in the field, start and finish times were flexible. The job was also considered complex and demanding — officers conduct investigations at health facilities and child care operations that may involve complaints pertaining to emotional, physical or financial abuse.

However, any deviations from regular work hours required notice to the supervisor. In this regard, Gill acted unreliably, arbitrator Mark Brown determined.

Shortly after being hired on as licensing officer, Gill was offered another temporary position at a facility in Abbotsford, B.C., when discrepancies from her timekeeping began to crop up, warranting further investigation. Her employer expressed concerns she was "double-dipping."

Managers from the authority compared Gill’s licensing officer schedule to the schedule at Valley Home Support and discovered that, between February 2012 and March 2013, there were 37 discrepancies.

Of those dates, 29 days showed start times at Valley Home Support prior to the end of her shift as licensing officer. For the rest of the days, the Valley Home start time was shortly after the end of her licensing officer shift.

For the remaining seven days in question, Gill said she did not take a coffee break and used banked time to leave early in order to make her Valley Home shift.

Records of the alarm’s deactivation system showed Gill further did not report for work at the time indicated. In fact, her asserted start times compared to the actual times on the alarm system varied from three to 22 minutes.

In making his decision, Brown determined Gill did not intend to mislead her employer regarding holding multiple positions.

The real issue was on the days when Gill was scheduled to work at Valley Home at a time that conflicted with her licensing officer hours of work, Brown said. Did she violate any employer policies, falsify time sheets or use the time inappropriately?

She clearly had a view that the hours of work were flexible, beyond the stated policy and practice. However, even if given the benefit of the doubt, Gill did not advise her employer of her usage of banked time. After all, an employer has the right to assume time sheets are being completed honestly.

The question is whether Gill actually did not work some of the time claimed and was therefore dishonest with respect to time reporting — and Brown concluded she was dishonest on at least eight occasions.

"What I do know is that Gill did not start when she said she did, and used the early start time in conjunction with working through a break and/or banked time to leave early to work at (Valley Home). In doing so, she was dishonest with respect to time reporting," Brown said in his decision. "I conclude this was not an error. Someone who is calculating time that closely would surely calculate start times accurately, if so desired."

That, coupled with the fact that Gill was not a long-term employee and that the licensing officer position is one who works independently and requires a high element of trust, the issue was not an isolated one.

Therefore, the grievance was dismissed, and the termination stood.

Reference: Fraser Health Authority and the B.C. Government and Service Employees Union. Mark J. Brown — arbitrator. Dave Hanacek for the employer, Mike Fenton for the union. May 5, 2014.

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