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News : Serco Investigating Allegations Staff Fiddled Hours
Sept 12, 2014 -- Serco is investigating allegations that staff fiddled their hours to inflate invoices to Toyota, in a blow to boss Rupert Soames’s efforts to clean up the outsourcing provider’s image.
Serco vowed an ‘attitudinal change’ last year, after it was stripped of a Government contract to electronically tag ex-criminals when it was caught charging for prisoners who were dead or back in prison.
But documents seen by the Daily Mail show that it has been forced to begin an investigation into new overcharging allegations raised by a member of staff.
The whistleblower alleged that members of his team deliberately logged more hours than they had actually worked, in order to hit performance targets that would trigger bonus payouts.
In one instance, an employee was allegedly registered as having worked for 20 hours in one day on the Toyota account, which provides call centre services for the Japanese automotive provider.
But the whistleblower claims he was told to ‘keep quiet about it’ by colleagues he accused of being behind the overcharging. He has filed a separate claim of bullying against the employees.
After filing a complaint in January, the whistleblower became so frustrated by the lack of action from senior staff that he emailed Soames. But the chief executive, gave the allegations short shrift.
‘I understand that you have previously made allegations of false accounting and that these have been found by our compliance and commercial team to not have any substance,’ Soames wrote in an email to the whistleblower last month.
‘Since this [the complaint] is already in process and being dealt with by colleagues, I don’t propose to take it any further.’
Since the email was sent a formal investigation, led by the group’s head of risk, has begun. Staff leading the probe are now looking at the hours logged on Serco’s ‘Agent Timer’, computer software used to calculate the hours worked on behalf of a client.
These hours are being compared with records from the company’s entry and exit doors, which log information from swipe cards used to gain access to the building.
Any discrepancy could be used as evidence of deliberate manipulation of hours worked.
Serco said: ‘Serco has comprehensive whistleblowing procedures in place. ‘We encourage employees to come forward with any concerns and view any allegations extremely seriously.’
‘Earlier this year we received allegations about a contract which employs 30 people providing customer support services to Toyota. ‘Initial investigations into these allegations did not uncover any evidence of wrong-doing.’
‘We subsequently launched a full forensic investigation early this summer following a review by our compliance unit. This forensic investigation is ongoing and Toyota is being kept fully informed.’
A spokesman for Toyota said: ‘Serco contacted us and told us about the investigation. We’re waiting to hear the results and we’re happy with their handling of the situation at the moment.’
The emergence of a fresh probe comes just weeks after Soames joined from power provider Aggreko.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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More Editorial From Serco
Serco’s Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) capabilities offer middle and back office solutions to public and private sector organizations globally. With a presence in ten countries, 98 locations and a strong workforce of more than 50,000 employees it is among the top 20 global BPO players with onshore, offshore and near shore capabilities in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, India, Mauritius, Philippines, Guatemala and Australia. With flexibility in designing solutions to suit client requirements, Serco’s BPO capabilities have helped clients to re-engineer processes across industry verticals such as Banking & Financial Services, Travel, Transportation & Hospitality, Healthcare, Logistics, Utility, Retail & Manufacturing, Telecom, IT & Online services, Media, Education and Entertainment. We provide transactional, process and voice support, finance and accounting services, and business transformation consulting, making us strongly placed to provide our customers with a broad range of end-to-end business services.
Founding in 1937, Toyota Motor Corporation has made far-reaching contributions to society and the economy through automobile manufacturing. Toyota has grown to become the world’s third largest automaker, annually selling more than 6.11 million passenger cars, trucks, and buses worldwide under the Toyota, Lexus, Daihatsu, and Hino brands. Having stepped up the globalization of its operations, Toyota manufactures vehicles in 26 countries and regions, markets them in more than 140 nations, and employs approximately 260,000 people worldwide.
Published: Friday, September 12, 2014