Summary dismissal for fraudulently recording working hours

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Under German employment law, an employer can dismiss an employee if they have good cause for doing so, e.g., the employee has kept fraudulent records of the hours they have worked.

Where there is good cause justifying this course of action, employment law also provides for the possibility of summary dismissal, usually without notice. To be sure that the case for summary dismissal is built on a solid legal foundation, it is a good idea for employers to reach out to an attorney who practises employment law. Thankfully, they need look no further than the team of legal experts at MTR Legal Rechtsanwälte.

Working time fraud, and the loss of confidence and trust it engenders, is justification enough to dismiss an employee without notice, according to a ruling of Hamm’s regional labor court – the Landesarbeitsgericht (LAG) Hamm – from January 27, 2023 (case ref.: 13 Sa 1007/22).

The plaintiff in the case in question was a severely disabled employee who had been working as a cleaner for eight years at a company that had installed an electronic system for recording working hours, with this system also requiring employees to register breaks by logging in and out.

The plaintiff had been duly clocking in at the start of her working days, but she would then leave to enjoy a coffee at a café opposite her workplace. When her employer came to learn that these unregistered coffee breaks had become a frequent occurrence, he confronted her. Despite initially denying everything, she eventually admitted to her misconduct after her employer showed her photographic evidence on his cell phone. This concluded with the employer dismissing her without notice after first obtaining the approval of the relevant department for inclusion. When it comes to dismissing a severely disabled employee, it is always advisable to consult a lawyer specializing in employment law.

The cleaner’s claim for wrongful termination was ultimately rejected by the LAG Hamm, which found that the employer had the necessary good cause to issue a summary dismissal notice. Her failure to correctly document the hours she had worked, which proved difficult to monitor, was deemed to be sufficient cause because it was associated with a serious breach of trust. A prior warning was not necessary, according to the court.

Whether an employer has good cause to dismiss an employee without notice is something that ought to be discussed with an employment lawyer. The latter will be able to clarify whether it is permissible to dispense with a prior warning.

MTR Legal Rechtsanwälte’s areas of expertise include key aspects of employment law.

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