Employee in Australia fired over WFH inactivity

Her unfair dismissal application was rejected by Australia’s workplace tribunal, which supported a misconduct charge by her employer.
By: | August 11, 2023

A female employee in Australia has been dismissed by her employer for her lack of activity on the keyboard while working from home.

Suzie Cheikho, who was a consultant at Insurance Australia Group (IAG), was relieved of her duties on February 20 this year, with IAG citing reasons such as Cheikho missing deadlines and meetings, being absent and uncontactable, and failing to complete tasks.

IAG also presented analysis of Cheikho’s cyber activity on 49 working days from October to December 2022, which found that she did not work her rostered hours for 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 log in, Cheikho had “very low keystroke activity” and recorded zero strokes over 117 hours in October, 143 hours in November, and 60 hours in December.

Disputing the findings, Cheikho claimed that IAG had a premediated plan to dismiss her and had specifically targeted her due to her mental health issues. “Sometimes the workload is a bit slow, but I have never not worked. I have been going through a lot of personal issues which has caused a decline to my mental health and unfortunately, I believe it has affected my performance and my work.” she added.

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Cheikho’s unfair dismissal application, however, was rejected by the Fair Work Commission (FWC), who ruled that the evidence showed that she “was not working as she was required to do during her designated working hours.”

Cheikho was also found to have attended a Microsoft Teams meeting with her manager regarding her performance with a profanity written across her hand, reported news.com.au.