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What is ‘time theft’ and why are some employers so worked up about it?

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It may be a new year, but many employers are still relying on an old tool for evaluating productivity.

That would be the clock — against which so much of work is measured, despite ongoing changes in how, where and when work gets done.

Employers and employees can sometimes butt heads over what happens on company time, but in severe cases, an employee could be accused of time theft. And this issue is growing more contentious as employers monitor what remote workers are doing outside of the confines of traditional offices.

“Time theft is arguably an even bigger issue for employers at this time than it has been before,” said Nadia Zaman, an employment lawyer with Rudner Law in Markham, Ont.

Not what you’re paid to be doing

Time theft encompasses a broad range of behaviours — anything from taking longer-than-scheduled breaks or logging off early, to using work hours to do household tasks — all of which an employer would view as being contrary to what one should be doing while getting paid to work.

“Time theft is really when the person actually should be working and they’re not,” said Janet Candido, a Toronto-based HR consultant. “They’re actively doing something else.”

A file photo, from June 2018, looking up at some office towers in Toronto's financial district.
Working life changed for millions of Canadians in 2020, when the pandemic forced organizations to send people home in a hurry.  Outside of the confines of traditional offices, employers may now find themselves tracking how employees spend their paid time. (Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press)

Zaman, looking through an employment-law lens, said it’s essentially “when an employee is paid for work that they have not performed,” or for time in which they were not actually working.

Many people might find themselves occasionally guilty, especially with the distractions of remote work. But the problem — and when it really becomes time theft — is when it becomes habitual.

Nita Chhinzer, an associate professor in the University of Guelph’s department of management, said organizations go through a series of steps when cases of alleged time theft are identified. Once it’s documented, that usually leads to progressive discipline, she said.

“It leads to a verbal warning, followed by a written warning, followed by dismissal in some cases,” she said.

But Chhinzer said there are organizations that take a harder line that “theft is theft,” and act decisively.

A headline-making case in Hamilton a decade ago, for instance, saw the southwestern Ontario city investigate and then take disciplinary action against dozens of municipal road workers it suspected of infractions that included time theft.

There were reports of road workers spending as little as two hours a day on the job. Some staff were fired, but most got their jobs back after arbitration.

An ongoing tension

Working life changed for millions of Canadians in 2020, when the pandemic forced organizations to send people home in a hurry. That left workers and employers having to adjust to the new circumstances.

“It’s more of a problem with people working remotely, certainly,” said Candido.

Zaman said there’s not a lot of case law involving time theft disputes and remote work to point to yet. But the issue of time theft goes back further than that. The Canadian Legal Information Institute website (a database of legal documents) has well over 300 entries dating back to 1996 that mention the term.

Some employers are installing software to monitor the activity of employees logged in at home. (Sebastian Leck/CBC)

“It’s actually been around for a while,” said Candido, who recalls advising clients, prior to the pandemic, on addressing the issue of people watching videos on cellphones during their workday.

News stories in recent years have revealed allegations of time theft being raised by a variety of employers — including an accounting firm, restaurants and municipal planning departments, and involving allegations ranging from employees billing for time they had not worked to people using their work time to conduct personal errands.

Zaman said time theft is a broad issue that may be raised in a variety of contexts and jobs.

“Typically we see it more in the context of hourly employees because of the nature of the work. But it doesn’t mean that it can’t happen for salaried employees,” she said.

Why the clock keeps ticking

For many employers, the clock has long been a mainstay of how they keep tabs on what’s getting done.

“Most employers don’t know how to measure productivity in any other way,” said Candido, the HR expert, noting that stance has spurred more of them to employ software to monitor the activity of employees who are working at home.

Organizations are using such tools to determine if the person who has logged onto their computer is actually doing work, she said. Just last week, The Canadian Press reported that a tribunal ordered a British Columbia accountant to pay her former employer more than $2,600 after a tracking software showed she engaged in time theft while working from home.

The University of Guelph’s Chhinzer said this approach is rooted in “legacy thinking” about jobs being built around a strict schedule and a defined exchange of a certain amount of money for a certain amount of time worked.

“That’s how we have thought about jobs for so long,” said Chhinzer, who recently wrote in The Conversation Canada about the flaws of such clock-focused thinking.

It’s also not the way that a lot of knowledge workers go about their work, she said.

“If we can find ways to be more productive, then we should still be compensated and rewarded to the same level for completing the work, without being penalized for our productivity,” she said.

Eroded trust

Paul Hutton, who works out of the Greater Toronto area, is a director in a private-sector company — a job that involves managing dozens of employees.

With a background in sales, he says he’s long been used to working in an environment where people were successfully working outside an office.

Dec. 2, 2022 | Some companies are pulling out all the stops to bring people back to the office: espresso bars with baristas, renovated workspaces, gyms and weekly catered lunches. Andrew Chang looks to find out which perks may work and which ones may not.

While he says he gets that some companies may have previously had concerns about having people working from home, it’s clear to him that it can work.

“You can achieve results … you can do this remotely,” he said, noting it involves putting trust in employees.

“Trust and honesty are critical,” said Zaman, the employment lawyer, noting they may be even more so in situations where someone works outside of an office.

From Candido’s perspective, the working world is seeing a broader erosion of the relationship between employers and their employees “starting with the pandemic and it’s just getting worse and worse.”

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U.S. regulator investigating Delta after global tech outage led to widespread cancellations – CBC.ca

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  1. U.S. regulator investigating Delta after global tech outage led to widespread cancellations  CBC.ca
  2. U.S. airline regulators investigate Delta’s flight cancellations and faltering response to global tech outage  The Globe and Mail
  3. DOT launches investigation into Delta amid ongoing flight disruptions  Fox Business
  4. US regulators investigate Delta as it struggles to recover from outage  Al Jazeera English
  5. Delta faces probe as CrowdStrike disruption lingers  BBC.com

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Before Spending Money on a ‘Career Coach,’ Do Yourself a Favour, First Try These Job Search Strategies

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I’m sure you’re aware of the “career coaching” industry—Internet talking heads promising job search and career success—that’s sprung up in recent years. Worth noting: The industry is unregulated. All career coaches are self-proclaimed; no certification or licensing is required.

 

Career coaches have one ultimate goal: To make money off you.

 

Today’s tight job market is making job seekers frustrated and desperate, which career coaches are taking advantage of with their promise of insider knowledge, personalized guidance, and a direct line to the hidden job market. Career coaches market themselves as a shortcut to finding a job, which is appealing when you’ve been unemployed for a while.

 

I’m not averse to hiring a career coach to assist you with your job search; it’s your money. However, keep in mind a career coach…

 

  • is a significant expense, especially if you’re unemployed
  • will only offer common sense advice, nothing that you probably already don’t know or haven’t read or heard before, and
  • doesn’t have insider knowledge

 

…and you’ll still need to do the activities related to job searching.

 

When asked, “Nick, should I hire a career coach?” my answer is an unequivocal “No!” Conducting your job search solo will not only save you money, you’ll also be developing job search skills you’ll need for the next time—chances are there’ll be a next time—you’re job hunting. Before spending thousands of dollars on a career coach, I suggest first trying the following job search strategies.

 

Optimize your online presence.

 

In today’s digital-first job market, employers will check your online digital footprint to evaluate your candidacy; are your interview-worthy? Start with the obvious: Ensure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and showcases your quantified accomplishments (a non-quantified statement is an opinion) so employers can see the value you can add. Do yourself a favour, read LinkedIn Mastery: A Comprehensive Guide to Navigating Digital Landscapes Effectively, by Benjamin Stone.

 

Necessary: Stay active on LinkedIn!

 

Your LinkedIn profile can’t be non-active. Maximizing LinkedIn’s potential requires regularly engaging with content, commenting on posts, and contributing original content. Engaging actively and visibly on LinkedIn will lead to opportunities.

 

Next:

 

  • List your social media accounts.
  • Deactivate accounts you are no longer using.
  • Set any accounts you don’t want prospective employers or recruiters to see to private.
  • Ensure your social media profiles (g., display name, handle, headshot, bio) convey the same message about your professional background.

 

Leverage your existing network (a low-hanging fruit few job seekers take advantage of).

 

Everyone has a network of some sort. This means since all job opportunities are attached to people—good news—there are job opportunities all around you. Often, your barista, dentist, hairstylist, neighbours, fellow members of whatever club or association you’re a part of, and, of course, family and friends can help open doors for you.

 

Tell everyone you know that you’re looking for a new job. Always carry extra copies of your resume and hand them out when appropriate. You’ll be surprised at the number of people willing to help you when they understand your situation.

 

Read these two books:

 

 

Ferrazzi outlines practical strategies for building relationships, networking, and leveraging connections

.

 

Hollins provides actionable strategies for achieving your job search and career goals, such as overcoming procrastination and boosting productivity with focus and discipline.

 

Apply less, connect more.

 

Applying online is a waste of time. In previous columns, I’ve noted that applying online is comparable to playing the lottery; you’re hoping a stranger hires you. Numerous studies have shown that most jobs aren’t advertised; they’re filled through connections and referrals.

 

Job searching today is a long game; you need to be patient. Today, you need to network your way into a company and identify opportunities, which no career coach can do for you. It’s unlikely the resume you submit online will be reviewed. Paying to have your resume redesigned won’t get it more views; getting it in front of people who can hire you will.

 

Take what you will from the following.

 

A few months back, a job seeker asked me, “I’ve been working as a help desk agent at a healthcare software company for five years. I want to become a Director of IT at a large multinational company. What should I do?”

 

How should I know? I’m not a Director of IT. Why not ask the Director of IT at a large multinational company?

 

Take advantage of the fact that people love talking about themselves. Dinner with someone who holds the position you aspire to is a better investment than hiring a career coach who lacks your dinner partner’s real-world experience. I charted my career path by observing those ahead of me and seeking their advice. Talking to people who are where you want to be will benefit your job search and help you achieve your career aspirations.

 

By shifting your mindset, optimizing your online presence, leveraging your existing network, staying engaged on LinkedIn, and connecting with the right people, you won’t need to hire a costly career coach, and you’ll develop skills you can use throughout your career.

_____________________________________________________________________

 

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers “unsweetened” job search advice. You can send Nick your questions to artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

 

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How to Start a Business?

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Market Research

You have to conduct research on the whole market and find out the gap. This gap will be your opportunity. Moreover, this research will give you an idea of how different businesses work and how they fulfill the needs of the people. Businesses work due to the demand for their products and services in the market. So, through this research, you have to collect information about the following things:

 

 

You can use surveys, questionnaires, and focus group interviews to extract information on the above factors.

 

Business Plan

Develop a complete roadmap for your business. This plan should cover all the details from the manufacturing to the sales and pricing.

 

It has a summary of the complete execution of the company, including the mission of the company, product or service of the company, competitors of the company, management, and employees of the company, as well as the location of the company. This plan should be in such a way that everyone can easily understand.

Investment For Business

If you are not self-funded, then you will need investment for your business. There are several ways to find investment, such as the following:

 

●     Venture capital

You can offer the shares of the company in exchange for shares of the company. In the beginning, you have to offer the company ownership to finance your project.

●     Crowdfunding

In this type of investment, a large number of people give funds to the startup. They are not given shares and profits from the company. However, the company provides them with gifts in the future for their finances.

●     Loans

There are many government and private companies that are offering loans for small and large companies. For this loan, you have to prepare a business plan, expense sheet, and expected profits. You can find several companies that are providing loans for businesses, such as Lendforall, Baker Tilly, West Bank Union, etc.

Structure of Business

Before starting a business, you have to select its structure. Traditionally, you will find the following structures of business:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Limited Liability Company
  • Corporation

 

To select any structure, you must analyze and compare your business with others. You will get an idea of which structure will be the most suitable for your business.

Business Tools

Nowadays, there are several business tools available in the market. These tools have made business management easy to a great extent. However, you have to invest in these tools to compete the market. Here are some important tools for business:

 

 

Many other tools are available in the market that are used for different management purposes.

Registration of Business

You have to register your business with the federal government. Moreover, you should apply for the insurance for your business. There are many other documents, such as tax IDs from federal and state governments, licenses and permits for your business, and applying for a business bank account.

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