Woman fired after bosses monitored how often she typed when working from home

Woman fired after bosses monitored how often she typed when working from home

Suzie Cheikho's bosses found that her 'keystroke activity' on her work laptop was 'very low'

Suzie Cheikho/Facebook/iStock

First our social media, now how often we type – is there anything employers can’t monitor these days?

That’s right, we are now officially living in ‘1984’, and a worker can be sacked based on their keyboard use.

At least, this was the case for one woman in Australia, who was fired from a major insurance company after they tracked just how much she was getting done while working from home.

Suzie Cheiko had spent 18 years working as a consultant for Insurance Australia Group (IAG), with her responsibilities including the creation of insurance policy documents and monitoring work-from-home compliance.

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We’re sure the irony wasn’t lost on her when her own WFH habits saw her lose her job.

She was booted from IAG back in February following a detailed review of her cyber activity. This included an analysis of the number of times she physically pressed her keyboard.

It showed that she had “significant periods where no or minimal keyboard activity was evident”, which fuelled her bosses’ suspicion that she was shirking her responsibilities.

The review found that, over a period of 49 days, she failed to work her rostered hours on 44 days, started late on 47 days, finished early on 29 days, and performed zero hours of work on four days.

On the days she did show up, she had “very low keystroke activity on her laptop”, with the review finding that she averaged between 34.56 and 90 keystrokes per hour.

And yet, in order to fulfill her duties properly, she would have needed to average “upwards of 500 keystrokes per hour”, her boss said in a statement.

Following her sacking, Cheikho submitted an application to the FWC for unfair dismissal, but the commission rejected it, finding that she was rightfully let go.

According to the FWC, she dismissed the findings of the cyber review, saying: “I doubt the data. I don’t believe for a minute it’s true.”

During a meeting with her employer prior to her sacking, she attempted to defend herself by saying words to the effect of: “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.”

However, she failed to provide evidence that she had been getting on with her tasks, writing in a note to her bosses: “I have had a look at the data and tried to get an explanation for those missing hours and times and really can’t recall why or how it’s that low.”

She added that she had been going through “a lot of personal issues” which she said had “caused a decline to [her] mental health”.

“Unfortunately I believe it has affected my performance and my work,” she admitted.

In her application to the FWC, she accused her employer of having: “A premeditated plan to remove her from the business and that she was targeted due to her mental health issues.”

However, the commission disagreed and ruled that she was “dismissed for a valid reason of misconduct”.

It acknowledged that she had suffered a number of “personal traumatic setbacks, including family bereavements, [...] that had a serious negative impact on her”.

However, it concluded that “the dismissal was not harsh, unjust or unreasonable.”

In other words, get typing, people.

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