According to the 2014 Labour Force Survey statistics, more than 131 million days are still being lost to sickness absence every year in Great Britain alone. Furthermore, a survey of 1000 British employees undertaken by Timeware UK, published in 2015 suggests that almost 60% of those surveyed had pulled a ‘sickie’ in the last three years.
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.
In another instance, a company from the professional services sector required assistance in observing an employee suspected of purporting to be suffering from severe stress and depression. The operation was undertaken over a period of days and involved regular covert observation of a female employee who had claimed that she was agoraphobic and unable to leave her own home. The observations confirmed that the employee was instead working lunchtime and evening shifts in a pub. The operation provided compelling evidence that was used by the employers to discipline and dismiss the employee.
Finally, demonstrating that all sectors can be affected, Expert Investigations group also carried out an investigation on behalf of the Housing Services Department. A surveillance operation was conducted over a three-day period and a surveillance team observed the employee renovating a home whilst he was signed off long term sick for a month period with a physical shoulder injury. The employee was observed to be driving a van, lifting doors out of it and taking them into the renovation property. Furthermore, the investigation revealed that his colleagues from the Housing Services Department had been providing him with stolen equipment. All evidence was covertly recorded and handed to the HR Department who subsequently dismissed the employee and those other employers involved in the scam.