In the following post you will learn more about the time theft and sick leave fraud by remote workers. The possibility to work remotely has been very positively received by employees, as evidenced by the fact that in a short period of time it has become a form of employment required by an increasing number of employees and offered by an increasing number of employers around the world. However, this does not mean that everyone is a fan of this trend – many managers and senior executives worry about the consequences of a lack of control over their team members. Read on.

Time theft and sick leave fraud by remote workers – table of contents:

  1. Time theft
  2. Abusing sick leave
  3. Control or trust?
  4. Full control over an employee
  5. Trust in an employee
  6. Summary

Time theft

When an employee comes to the office, you can check at any time what they are working on at the moment, talk to them, ask to see the effect of the work done, and observe them throughout the day. The introduction of hybrid or remote work has taken control away from team leaders and raised concerns about the so-called “time theft”. This phenomenon involves using work time to perform personal activities (such as cooking dinner, doing laundry, walking the dog, going to the store, picking up the kids from school), which in practice means getting paid for more hours than were actually spent on work duties.

time theft

You can suspect that your employees are spending time at work inappropriately, when they:

  • respond too late to the received messages (despite having an “available” status online),
  • don’t turn on the webcam and don’t speak up during meetings,
  • have unread emails in their inbox (while they should have responded to them long ago),
  • don’t answer their company phone.

Failing to supervise remote workers results in increased task completion time, which means lower productivity and losses for the company.

Abusing sick leave

Calling in sick and taking a sick leave is the second type of situation where managers feel they have no control over remote workers – when they don’t have to show up at the office, no one is around to question their symptoms. Similarly, remote employees who feel ill may not even take the paid sick leave in order not to lose part of their salary. Such behavior should also be considered a certain way of “cheating” the employer since an illness significantly reduces the employee’s productivity. Any office worker in such a situation would be sent home to recover as quickly as possible.

Control or trust?

How to manage remote workers to eliminate your fears? The answer to this question is related to what kind of approach to employees and organizational culture a particular company will adopt. There are two options: as much control as possible and trust.

Full control over an employee

The former approach relies on the use of monitoring tools, as well as making time reporting mandatory, setting productivity standards (depending on the position, responsibilities, etc.) and drawing consequences for failing to meet deadlines. In addition, you may decide to grant permission to work remotely only to those with long work experience or high productivity, or add time theft to your fraud policy. Such behavior can, on the one hand, motivate remote workers to perform their duties properly, and on the other hand, create resentment towards the company related to excessive supervision and unfairness.

Trust in an employee

The second approach involves reassuring employees that you have confidence in them and introducing, for example, a task-based working system or flexible working hours. Such conditions will allow employees to fulfill both their work and home duties. It will certainly be appreciated by your employees and will increase their work motivation and overall productivity.


“Transparent communication” – this is the basic principle when working with remote employees. To minimize the risk of the behaviors described above, you should be honest with your remote team members about what you expect from them.

You’ve just read about the time theft and sick leave fraud by remote workers. Read also: Social media in recruitment. 1 important reason to use them.

If you like our content, join our busy bees community on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok.

Time theft and sick leave fraud by remote workers nicole mankin avatar 1background

Author: Nicole Mankin

HR manager with an excellent ability to build a positive atmosphere and create a valuable environment for employees. She loves to see the potential of talented people and mobilize them to develop.