Employer asks me to sign things that I shouldn't sign.

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Cinnamon
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17 Nov 2013, 11:24 am

This is in the U.K.
I work one afternoon a week as an assistant for a person with a chronic illness. She is very nice, and she pays me even when I forget about it. She gets money from the council/government to hire assistants (there is at least one other assistant). There are two problems.
One small problem: Sometimes we go places in her car, and then I sign a document saying that we have been there in the car so she can claim back the petrol. Only I am not sure if that wouldn't be to pay me back money for petrol if I were to use my car. I can't drive, so that's why we go in her car and she drives. But maybe that's still okay, though. I'm not sure.
The bigger problem: Recently she had her boyfriend over for a week or so, and they went to various places out together, for walks etc. My employer put those trips also on the claim-back sheet for me to sign. I said that I didn't think that was right, because I obviously wasn't even there. Then she said that she had nobody else to sign them, so she relied on me to sign it, because she couldn't afford to pay the petrol herself. Then I said that the government body who pays those expenses would notice that my work hours don't match up with those trips, and my employer said it wasn't a problem, and I should just sign. And then I did sign, but I so regret it now, because I really don't think it's right. Have I now committed a crime? What should I do about it?
I don't want to get my employer in trouble either, that would be mean to do, but I really hadn't wanted to sign those documents and I don't think I should have. :(



thewhitrbbit
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17 Nov 2013, 11:44 am

I live in the USA but I would think things are similar.

My job sometimes requires I use my private car for work. I am able to get reimbursed for that mileage, so in that sense she is correct that she deserves reimbursement.

However we are reimbursed only for the map mileage. I put in the start and end points into a map, and they reimburse based on that. She should not be claiming mileage for personal trips as reimburseable expenses.



CosmicRuss
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17 Nov 2013, 11:49 am

Your employer is asking you to become an accessory to fraud. I would go and speak to someone at a Citizens Advice Bureau as this could have serious implications if an audit is done by whoever pays out the monies to her.


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OliveOilMom
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17 Nov 2013, 1:35 pm

I would sign what she wants but make her pay me more money under the table. Of course I'd be careful signing stuff and make sure it can look like a harmless mistake on my part if I were to get caught. But definitely, she would be paying me some nonreported cash for that.



Cinnamon
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17 Nov 2013, 1:55 pm

Yes, I think the original patrol costs claims are probably fine in the U.K. too, but not the ones where she went on days out with her boyfriend. But even the ones where she and I go places are not for business or anything. It's just for going on walks and to shops, because she cannot go walking without assistance. She gets Disability benefits for doing those things with support.
So I guess she could reason that on the outings with the boyfriend the boyfriend was her support, but still... I wasn't there, was I?
OliveOilmum, she isn't paying me extra for that. The money is for her petrol costs, not for me. But my wages are good enough - more per hour than other assistant jobs would pay. That's not the issue. Apart from that, I wouldn't accept money to do something that isn't legal unless I were in really big financial problems, and I am not.
I think I will indeed go to a Citizens Advice Bureau, CosmicRuss. Would this really be fraud?



VIDEODROME
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17 Nov 2013, 2:44 pm

Is she unable to sign these papers herself because of her health issue?

Or is this merely a convenience thing for her having you submit the form while she travels? It seems like she or her boyfriend should do it, unless her boyfriend's signature doesn't count because he isn't an official assistant.

Another idea might be having her fill out presigned forms with her own signature and you just fill out the numbers to send in.



thewhitrbbit
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17 Nov 2013, 2:48 pm

Quote:
Is she unable to sign these papers herself because of her health issue?


We require a second signature to prevent fraud.



AardvarkGoodSwimmer
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17 Nov 2013, 5:03 pm

Please don't go to the Citizens Advice Bureau.* Or, at least think about it for a full day or two.

* I live in the US, so I don't know all the details about the UK. But I'd really hesitate doing something that might get her in trouble, and perhaps yourself as well. Even if it's something you can ask about purely anonymously and not mention names, I might still hesitate.



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17 Nov 2013, 5:36 pm

I also like being very honest and aboveboard. And on a couple of times, I have allowed myself to be pressured to sign something, and I have regretted it. All the same, you want to learn from the situation, and not go too far any one direction.

On important thing, try and keep liking her. And try and keep respecting her. Maybe just take a deep breath, okay, she's a good person, and she feels she needs to game the system, and I don't understand it. And me personally, I really don't understand it how some people are this way.

And she asks you, maybe have something prepared. No, I didn't feel great about it, but I signed it. I'm just not going to make a habit out of it.

And on the rare event, you're asked about the mileage and time sheets not linking up, it will be at least a week, maybe six weeks. I just don't remember about it. And that's your fallback position as necessary. Maybe even make a list of entirely unrelated stuff that was going on this week. Then you might have one or two at your fingertips to remember. Then repeat a secod time if necessary, a lot was going on, I just don't remember.



CosmicRuss
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17 Nov 2013, 6:14 pm

I would imagine she is being paid from the Independent Living Fund and if this is monitored by the local council they may do a spot check audit at anytime. No matter how nice your employer seems, she could land you in it if she is under pressure when found out she is allegedly making false claims.

Do seek advice from Citizens Advice you don't have to give them the details but they will advise you of your position and how to sort it out.


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JanuaryMan
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19 Nov 2013, 6:15 pm

CosmicRuss wrote:
I would imagine she is being paid from the Independent Living Fund and if this is monitored by the local council they may do a spot check audit at anytime. No matter how nice your employer seems, she could land you in it if she is under pressure when found out she is allegedly making false claims.

Do seek advice from Citizens Advice you don't have to give them the details but they will advise you of your position and how to sort it out.
Yes, seconded.
Visit the C.A.B. They will give you very sound advice on most occasions and anything you discuss there about your work is confidential. It won't relay back to them.



jrjones9933
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19 Nov 2013, 6:30 pm

I like the sound of these Citizens Advice Boards. In Texas, we only have an organization called the Texas Workforce Commission, and they seem primarily geared to help employers. They can't even force employers to pay employees the wages that they obviously owe them, but they provide all kinds of advice for businesses to help them avoid paying unemployment when they fire employees.

The problem with letting people convince you to violate your ethical standards is that they hardly ever stop at asking you to violate them a little. It's a well-known tactic among salespeople (and social psychologists) that if you get someone to agree to a small request, they will have a higher likelihood of agreeing to a larger request later.



carthago
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20 Nov 2013, 4:54 am

Cinnamon wrote:
Have I now committed a crime? What should I do about it?


This is not to be construed as legal advice. Based on the description, a person having signed the documents would most likely have committed accessory to fraud. That is a crime in the US and probably also in the UK. Such a person's defense would take into account their jurisdiction (the laws of Scotland are substantially different from England and Wales), their age (minors are often exempt), the extent of their mental handicap, and many other factors. However, ignorance of the law is not a legal defense in and of itself (ignorantia juris non excusat).

A person caught in this situation may want to consider hiring an attorney, but if that is not an option, then leaving the company under amicable terms may mitigate the damage.

Also one should be aware that the statute of limitations usually begins at the date of discovery.

For future reference, try to avoid posting so much detail.



Cinnamon
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20 Nov 2013, 12:02 pm

carthago wrote:
For future reference, try to avoid posting so much detail.


Why not, Carthago?

I have not been able to resolve the problem yet, but I fear that at best I'll lose this job. :-(



Cinnamon
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20 Nov 2013, 12:09 pm

Anyway, I think I'll have to tell someone, even if it gets her and me in trouble. I'd rather cope with taking responsibility for my actions than with living under the fear of discovery and the idea that I have committed fraud. I'm really bad at lying and worse at cheating. If everyone was just honest things would be much simpler and less worrying. :(