It may not be your first thought that private investigations and HR issues in the workplace go hand-in-hand. Let us tell you why this is not the case and how the two services can in fact complement each other very well.
Your first question might be, when would it be necessary?
There are lots of situations where a private investigator can step in to support your company, and it’s not as expensive as you might think. We regularly help businesses of all sizes with situations such as employee theft, employee misconduct, sickness validation, employee moon-lighting, pre-employment checks and/ or loss of productivity or profits. In many cases the cost of surveillance might even be out-weighed by what you could spend in sick pay to a possible fraudulent employee!
Let’s look into one of these situations further – sickness validation. Do you or your client have that one employee who continues to hand in those sick notes? Is there an employee on long term sick leave whilst still on full pay?
Whilst in some cases, this could be completely genuine, there might be some instances when in fact that employee is committing false absenteeism, but legally you have to follow typical sickness protocol. This is where we come in to assist. By carrying out directed surveillance and gaining video evidence, what we offer is a completely impartial view on that particular employee’s lifestyle.
It might be considered unethical by some however we always abide by the law and are never overly intrusive. We respect everyone’s right to private and family life and we only record events that happen within the public domain.
Does this scenario sound familiar?
A cleaning company has an employee signed off sick for 2 weeks with stress. As required by law, the company paid the employee Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).
At the end of the 2 weeks, a further Fit Note was provided for 1 month. In this situation the company had a HR professional in charge of these matters. They tried to contact the employee as she had not spoken to anyone while off, but eventually had a call back from the employee’s partner to say that she was too unwell to speak to anyone.
1 month later a further Fit Note arrived for another month. However, there were rumours circulating at the company, suggesting that the employee may actually be working somewhere else. This is what we’d refer to as employee moon-lighting.
Their HR professional invited the employee to a meeting to understand more about her condition, to see if she had any plans for returning to work and if there was any support that the company could provide. The day before the meeting was due to take place, the employee said she was not able to attend the first meeting date as it wasn’t convenient, and so the meeting was re-arranged.
When the meeting did take place, the employee seemed agitated, angry at times and slightly defensive. She did not want to engage in conversation, but did say that she didn’t know when she would be fit enough to come back. She expected to be signed off by her GP again.
2 days later a letter arrived, containing her resignation with 2 weeks’ notice (to the expiry date of her next Fit Note).
Let’s state the facts
The cleaning company was paying Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for the employee with what seemed like no light at the end of the tunnel in terms of a return to work. The company did not make much money and paying SSP was a huge burden on them as well as having to take on a new member of staff to cover the work. They since found out that the ‘rumours’ were in fact correct – a contact confirmed that the employee was working as a cleaner at a factory whilst also claiming SSP from the employer.
So how could a Private Investigator of helped?
Surveillance could have started as soon as the rumours of this employee came to light to confirm what the employee was actually up to. This most likely would have put a quick end to the problem by providing solid evidence of the employee moon-lighting, and in addition it would have saved the company needing to continue to pay out SSP unnecessarily.
When I talk to employers, I often uncover one of two things;
They are unaware that private investigative services even exist and can help with their situations, and/ or;
There is a feeling of guilt or embarrassment for having to use or consider using the services of a private detective to find out the truth. But essentially, you deserve this from your employees!
A private detective can work with your HR team to work out a plan that you are comfortable with that is both cost and time effective whilst also being ethical and proportionate in terms of intrusion. At the end of the agreed investigation period, you will have the evidence you need to move forward with your situation.
I’d like to say a special thank you to Nicky Silver who has kindly supported me with this blog by providing the above case study. If you are looking for bespoke employment or HR advice, we’d highly recommend her services!
You can find all of her services on her website www.nickysilverhr.co.uk
I hope you have found this blog useful. As always, thanks for reading!