An employee may claim absence from work due to either physical injury or mental debilitation. Instead, during their absence they could be working elsewhere, using the time for their own means or living a life of leisure at the expense of you, the employer.
According to Labour Force Survey statistics (2014), more than 131 million days are still being lost to sickness absence every year in Great Britain alone. But this statistic also includes genuine absence through illness or injury. False absenteeism is notoriously difficult to prove. But can you afford to ignore the problem?
Here is a recent case study, to show in greater detail one of the many ways that false absenteeism can happen and what your course of action should be:
Often, false absenteeism is based around finance where an employee is either found involved with secondary employment, running a business or being involved in supporting a family business.
Recently, a company from the manufacturing sector called on Expert Investigations Group to look into a suspected false absenteeism case, where an employee was off long-term sick with stress and depression. Known as Operation Tractor, it carried out observation and surveillance on the suspect and found he was not only carrying out house renovation but had set up a business with a member of his family and a bonafide business with a number of properties which he then carried out maintenance work for. The employee was not only absent from work on full pay but was receiving additional payment from his second job. The evidence produced led to immediate dismissal of the employee.
It’s Time to Act
What starts as the odd sick day here and there can become a much more organised, long term affair. Employees can even progress to what is known as the ‘criminal entrepreneur’. This is the employee that is running their own business on your time.
Many factors can assist in allowing employees to start and run a business on your company time. This could be a small hobby business or working alongside a family member business to increase capability or productivity, creating their own substantial business or diverting revenue from your business to expand their already established business that is unknown to you.
The costs to your organisation can be considerable and mean a loss in that employee’s time, of productivity, of clients to that employee’s own business but even in theft of product, if they are stealing their employers fuel, vehicle, electricity, paper, ink cartridges, packaging and postal costs, to name a few examples.
Consider the implications if more than one employee is engaged in the business. Is the issue and business larger than you perceive? Are they diverting work, contracts or instructions from their employers to themselves?
Employers and management need to be aware of the opportunity employees have to run and develop their business in their company time. That’s where I come in.
It’s Time to Act.