When our solicitor client was approached regarding a senior director who was falsely absent from work it was decided between the solicitor and their client that they needed some concrete evidence to confirm that the director was falsely absent from work and was able to return to work and fulfil his duties. Evidence was required to show that he was using company time to fulfil his own interests, hobbies and activities. The director received £90,000 per annum salary, a company car and additional benefits. There were negative effects on the business with the director not being in place to fulfil his role.
Initial evidence confirmed that something was not right, based on the mileage on his company vehicle when it was brought in for a service. The director had been absent for five months from work, yet he had accumulated 40,000 miles in the vehicle. Clearly a sensitive issue given the position within the organisation of the employee. Our solicitor client knew the benefits of gathering proactive evidence in order to be able to progress the issue to its conclusion preferably with the greatest benefit to his client.
Being in possession of evidence puts an employer in a very strong position and so the solicitor discussed the case with Expert Investigations Group and it was decided to place the director under surveillance for a five-day period in order to show what his movements were and whether they were at variance as to what he had documented in his sick notes as to what he could do. The director alleged he was unable to drive long distances walk more than 50 yards sit in one place for more than two or three minutes could not bend or stretch and was basically housebound.
During the five days of surveillance the subject was followed and on a daily basis he was out in his car travelling the length and breadth of the country; quite clearly, he enjoyed driving. As his home was in the Midlands it was surprising on one day when he drove to North Wales to a coffee shop, had a cup of coffee and a walk around the town for 45 minutes then got into his car and drove home. The journey driving time being almost 2 hours in each direction. Clearly a contradiction as to what he said he could and could not do.
During another day of surveillance, the subject drove from his home address to a residential address in Manchester where he entered and then left in the company of another male of a similar age. The subject drove his car with his passenger to 3 car dealerships in the Manchester area and walked into the dealerships and was looking around at the cars. He was observed to be getting in and out of the cars sitting on both of the front seats and rear seats. He was observed opening the boot and leaning in to check the depth. After returning his passenger to his home subject again drove back to his home address. Another day contradiction as to what he said he could and could not do.
On the final day of the surveillance subject drove a distance of 90 minutes to a small town where he parked his vehicle and walked down an alleyway between some shops to where there was a sign indicating a barbershop. After an hour the subject emerged and he quite clearly had not had a haircut. He walked around the town for an hour and into the café where he had some lunch before driving back to the home address.
Our data research showed that at the rear of this alleyway was a female providing escort services for men. This and the barbershop were the only two premises, so the assumption was made that the subject potentially went for those escort services.
On producing a file of evidence including all of the video footage of the movements of the subject there is was an interesting twist when the solicitor’s clients identified the passenger who went to the car dealerships as another one of their employees: who was off on long-term sick. Clearly as the evidence had been successfully gathered on the original director a further week of surveillance was conducted on his passenger. This again gathered substantial evidence to confirm that this employee was also fraudulently absent from the workplace.
This case shows the real benefits of acting proactively when dealing with false absenteeism. In this case there were two costs of employees being falsely absent; one of them being on a substantial salary and his absence having a detrimental effect on the business. Holding this lawfully gathered evidence meant that our solicitor could advise his client to interview, suspend and dismiss both individuals, therefore dealing proactively with an issue that had been going on for months and months and also subversively sending a message across the workforce that this kind of behaviour would not be tolerated and also showing the workforce that they will support them positively by dealing with malingerers and exiting them from the business.