A social worker who claimed pay for part-time work at one council while on sick leave from her permanent job at another has received a caution from the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
Roberta Van-Dyck was employed by the London Borough of Hounslow as a locum from 2009 and then as a permanent, full-time employee in the children and adult services team between 1 April 2010 and 28 September 2011.
However, in 2011, a data match alerted the National Fraud Initiative to the fact that Van-Dyck had also been contracted by the London Borough of Newham to work as and when required from 18 March 2009, a panel of the HCPC’s conduct and competence committee heard.
Newham gave the counter-fraud team at Hounslow council copies of Van-Dyck’s timesheets submitted between January 2010 and July 2011.
A cross-referencing exercises showed she had submitted claims for hours worked at Newham, which corresponded with days she had been absent from Hounslow due to sickness, annual leave, working from home or training.
Van-Dyck also sent a confidential case conference report to an unauthorised contact, who was not a Hounslow council employee, to a personal Hotmail email account.
Van-Dyck, who attended the HCPC’s hearing, but was not represented, said she had sent the email in error.
She also claimed she had not actually worked for Newham on many of the occasions indicated on the timesheets; rather she had submitted claims on those dates to get around a restriction by Newham on the number of hours she could claim in a week.
However, the panel found that she was in breach of her contract of employment with Hounslow and concluded that she had deliberately withheld information from her employer, therefore failing to comply with its code of conduct and ethics.
“Some of her colleagues were aware of her dual employment, but she failed to inform her managers on the grounds that this was ‘nothing to do with them’. This was deliberate non-disclosure by a person who was not being straight or on the level,” said the panel.
It added that this dishonesty over a 12-month period for financial gain “demonstrated a serious lack of integrity”.
Taking into her account her previous unblemished record and the fact there was no suggestion of lack of competence in respect of her “challenging professional duties”, the panel concluded that a four-year caution was the appropriate sanction in this case.