No Slacking: As Employers Keep Watchful Eye On Remote Workers, Trump Admin Roots Out Unemployment Fraud

No Slacking: As Employers Keep Watchful Eye On Remote Workers, Trump Admin Roots Out Unemployment Fraud

Tyler Durden

Thu, 05/14/2020 – 10:21

With record numbers of people working from home during the pandemic, employers are using sophisticated software to remotely monitor their employees‘ productivity. Companies such as ActivTrak, Teramind, Hubstaff and Time Doctor provide bosses with a “dashboard” which provides data on individual workers – including their screen time, mouse activity, desktop screenshots, and even their physical location via GPS, according to the CBC

According to the report, Austin, TX-based ActivTrak has seen a spike in customer inquiries, while Miami-based Teramind said that global “customer interest” is 300% normal. Hubstaff co-founder Dave Nevogt said that the Indianapolis-based company’s website has seen a massive jump in traffic.

“We had half of our company working remotely before this, and since COVID, now everybody is remote,” said Jackson Fregeau, COO of Vancouver-based Revenue Accelerator – which uses Hubstaff’s software to monitor its 25 employees. The company helps tech companies find and develop sales leads. “We need to be holding people accountable. We need to know what people are working on. And I think it helps people stay more focused as well.”

“We used to measure their performance by results — the number of meetings booked — but now, potential customers aren’t responding the way they used to, and we have to measure against the time the team is putting in, even if it’s not producing a result,” said Fregeau.

According to Hubstaff’s Dave Nevgot, most of their clients are business owners with between 10 and 100 employees.

“It’s typically those customers that bill by the hour, and they need the justification of how many hours are actually being worked, so how many hours spent on Client A versus Client B, for invoicing,” he said, adding that he sees the work-from-home trend exploding in the years ahead.

“I think the world has become aware that when you work from home, you can be productive, and the workforce is going to want that,” added Nevgot.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration is cracking down on unemployment fraud, according to VICE.

With the country hitting the worst unemployment levels since the Great Depression, the US Labor Department has issued guidance to states to be on the lookout for “improper payments and fraud,” which remains a “top priority.”

Due to the supercharged unemployment benefits – which have added up to $600 / week on top of the normal benefit, many employees are making more money sitting at home than working – with many refusing to return to their jobs. This, in turn, puts employers who have accepted loans from the Paycheck Protection Program in a bind, as they are required to retain a certain percentage of employees for the loan to convert to a grant.

In order to identify people who might be turning down suitable work, the federal government is directing states to get companies to snitch on their employees if they are refusing to return to their jobs. The DOL guidance issued Monday “strongly encourages” states to “request employers to provide information when workers refuse to return to their jobs for reasons that do not support their continued eligibility for benefits.”


The guidance also reiterates the fact that people can’t get benefits if they turn down work. “As states begin the process of phased reopening, we expect historically high levels of suitable return to work opportunities. As such, states must work to maintain program integrity by ensuring that claimants are not continuing to claim benefits when they have been offered suitable work,” the Department of Labor states. –VICE

VICE points out that many people are refusing to return to work out of fear of contracting COVID-19, arguing that “Those who are going into work are doing so even at risk to their own health because they feel that they have no choice—often because they fear they will lose their unemployment benefits if they don’t return.”

Several states, meanwhile, have system in place for employers to report when an employee refuses to return to work. In Ohio, an online form was created to make it easier for companies to report unemployment fraud – and has received 1,800 reports covering approximately 3,000 workers so far.

Iowa’s workforce development website states that “If you have offered work to employees and your employee refuses to return to work, you must notify Iowa Workforce Development.”

With no end to the COVID-19 pandemic in sight, one has to wonder how long this can continue.

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