Across the UK, fraud is costing us dear with £144 billion going missing and leading to a total bill reckoned to be up to £193 billion. Most of this is related to procurement scams of one kind or another. However, £12 billion of this was attributed to payroll fraud in all its guises.
Unsavoury as it may be, many agencies are likely to have encountered payroll fraud directly as a result of timesheet tampering. Fraud on a timesheet may take the shape of a falsified entry, where information is invented. Alternatively, it may be the alteration of an existing entry, such as changing one digit to another.
Alterations to timesheets that extend the hours worked, or falsified entries that ‘document’ shifts worked that were not, are serious types of fraud as they are straight-forward attempts to deceive for financial gain.
However, even here there are nuances. Someone fiddling 5 minutes here or 10 minutes there pales by comparison to someone attempting to seek fraudulent remuneration for entire ‘ghost shifts’ that they did not work. Attempts to falsify sign-off by authorised signatories are also very serious cases.
Depending on the specific details that have been incorrectly entered or altered, falsification of timesheet information may equate to dishonesty and theft and be grounds for prosecution. For some it may be no more than a disciplinary offence, but for others it may be gross misconduct and grounds for immediate dismissal.
Factors such as whether it is a one-off event, or whether a specific worker or contractor is a rogue, or whether it is a widespread embedded behaviour across an agency or a specific contract all influence how recruitment agency management handle such cases.
The advent of electronic timesheet systems has radically reduced the opportunities for alteration and falsification. Essentially, doing away with paper means that the potential for timesheet fraud is disappearing.
However, even with online timesheet systems accessed through computers and mobile devices, there can be no room for complacency. Determined computer-savvy fraudsters are always going to be looking for opportunities and loopholes to exploit.
To combat this threat there needs to be a policy-led best practice approach to security for users of electronic timesheet systems:
Eliminating paper from the timesheet process not only removes the ability to alter and falsify timesheet entries, it also addresses gross inefficiencies in timesheet processing and the potential for human errors such as loss of paper timesheets or transcription errors resulting from miss-keying or misreading handwriting.
ETZ recruitment back office integration and solutions reduce the costs of timesheet processing by up to 85%. When used with policy-led best practice for electronic timesheet systems, ETZ significantly reduces the potential for timesheet fraud. If you want to know more about how we help transform efficiency and all but eliminate the potential for timesheet fraud through falsification and alteration, just get in touch.
For more on payroll fraud click here for ‘Payroll fraud costs UK firms £12bn per year’ at cipd.co.uk
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