Consultant fired after monitoring technology detects misconduct

Review of cyber activity reveals 'significant periods where no or minimal keyboard activity was evident'

Consultant fired after monitoring technology detects misconduct

A consultant of Insurance Australia Group (IAG) has been terminated after monitoring technology revealed that she was not meeting the minimum keystrokes that were expected from her per hour.

Suzie Cheikho, who was employed at the IAG since 2005, was tasked with creating and changing insurance policy documents, meeting regulatory timeframes, as well as monitoring work-from-home compliance.

She was fired, however, in February 2023 for serious misconduct for failing to work as required between October and December 2022. She raised the matter to the FWC.

According to the IAG, a review of the consultant's cyber activity revealed that she had "significant periods where no or minimal keyboard activity was evident."

"During the days that the [consultant] had logged on to work, there was very low keystroke activity on her laptop, which indicated that she was not presenting for work and performing work as required," the findings said as heard by the FWC.

On average, she had 48.6 keystrokes per hour in October, 34.56 keystrokes per hour in November, and 80 keystrokes per hour in December.

The findings also revealed that she had zero keystroke activity for 117 hours in October, 143 hours in November, and 60 hours in December.

"As her role required data input and correspondence with various stakeholders, her keystrokes per hour would be upwards of 500 keystrokes per hour," her direct manager told the FWC.

Consultant's defence about work activity

Cheikho argued at the FWC that her employer had a "premeditated plan to remove her from the business and that she was targeted for her mental health issues."

The consultant defended that she also used her phone while working, and that there were "extended periods" of her just reading and checking the wording of documents.

She also reasoned that she has been undergoing "a lot of personal issues" that caused her mental health and work performance to drop.

"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 commented on IAG's monitoring findings.

Consultant ‘unable to provide credible explanation’

The FWC in a decision in July ruled in favour of the IAG, citing the firm's evidence against Cheikho and her failure to provide a credible explanation during the proceedings.

"The evidence demonstrates that in the period October to December 2022, the [consultant] was not working as she was required to do during her designated working hours," the FWC sad. "The evidence shows that she was unable to provide a credible explanation during that process. Nor was the [consultant] able to do so in the course of these proceedings."

The consultant was also given prior warnings about her misconduct before her dismissal, as well as the opportunity to respond or refute the allegations made against her.

"The [consultant] was dismissed for a valid reason of misconduct," the FWC said. "Her circumstances were all the more regrettable given the long period of satisfactory service she had given the [employer]."

"Nonetheless ... I am satisfied that the dismissal of the [consultant] was not harsh, unjust or unreasonable."

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