An Aussie woman who worked from home has been sacked after her employer monitored her laptop activity and found she wasn’t typing enough.
The Fair Work Commission (FWC) rejected an unfair-dismissal claim brought by former Insurance Australia Group (IAG) consultant Suzie Cheikho and found she was fired for a “valid reason of misconduct”.
Cheikho had been working for the insurance company for 18 years and was responsible for creating insurance documents, meeting regulatory timelines and, ironically, managing work-from-home compliance, among other duties.
According to FWC findings, Cheiko was fired by IAG on February 20 for failing to do her work as required from October to December 2022.
Cheikho claimed there was no valid reason for her dismissal and said IAG had a “premeditated plan” to remove her from the business and she alleged she was targeted because of her mental health issues.
‘Very low keystroke activity’
Her manager noted Cheikho had performance issues, including difficulties in meeting deadlines, being absent and uncontactable, missing meetings and failure to lodge documentation with the regulator, which resulted in IAG being fined.
IAG claimed that when it reviewed her cyber activity, including keystroke activity, there were “significant periods where no or minimal keyboard activity was evident”.
It found she failed to work her rostered hours for 44 days of the 49 days monitored, started late on 47 days, finished early on 29 days and did no work on four days.
During the days she did log on, she had “very low keystroke activity on her laptop”, which indicated she was not doing her work as required. She recorded 117 hours with zero keystrokes during October, 143 hours in November and 60 hours in December.
When the review was brought to her attention, Cheikho could not recall why or how her activity was so low.
“I cannot believe this data. Sometimes the workload is a bit slow, but I have never not worked. I mean, I may go to the shops from time to time, but that is not for the entire day,” she said in a meeting.
FWC deputy-president Thomas Roberts found the evidence showed Cheikho was “not working as she was required to do during her designated working hours” and she was unable to provide a “credible explanation” after it was brought to her attention.
Roberts concluded there was a valid reason for her dismissal.