The Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) has reminded government agencies to take an eagle-eyed approach to overseeing employees’ use of leave.
Its warning has followed the sentencing of Department of Home Affairs employee Rebecca Reid over corruption-related offences.
Facing the ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday, Reid pleaded guilty to offences under the Criminal Code relating to the use and attempted use of forged medical certificates.
Employed by the then Department of Immigration and Border Protection in human resources, she had created the documents in order to take more than $9000 worth of sick leave. According to the Canberra Star, Reid used a “simple photoshop job” to falsify the documents a number of times between 2011 and 2017, the court heard.
“The forged certificates were based off of legitimate certificates with the dates amended,” her lawyer said.
“Most of the sick days were spent in bed.”
Home Affairs withheld $4700 in entitlements when Reid was fired. She has been ordered to pay $4,564.12 within two years, and has been sentenced to a 12 month good behaviour order and 200 hours of community service.
The prosecution of Reid arose from an ACLEI investigation. The agency has welcomed the sentencing, but reminded other entities to take note.
“The investigation highlights the need for agencies to maintain a vigilant approach to monitoring the use of leave and other entitlements,” it said.
“Corruption like this can cause a significant loss to the commonwealth.”
ACLEI has encouraged the reporting of corruption in federal law enforcement agencies via its website, and through Crime Stoppers in regards to other agencies.
Magistrate James Lawton noted that while Reid appeared to have been “struggling with work”, she had breached the trust of her department.