At Leonards, we specialise in the provision of services to employers in combating suspected employee sickness fraud.

Our experienced surveillance teams are capable of gathering recorded and written evidence of an employee’s activities whilst on sick leave which can be invaluable to employers in a tribunal or disciplinary hearing.

This can show the claimant is genuine in their claim or show some form of malingering and can even act as a deterrent to fraudulent sickness claims in some cases.

Whilst we are not solicitors or legally qualified, we have many years of experience in handling these types of investigations and regularly liaise with our solicitor clients who specialize in employment law.

Top Tips to employers prior to instructing surveillance on employees:

• Look for “patterns” of absence from employees before considering surveillance. Regular or long term absence by senior management or highly remunerated staff is often an indication they may be using their labour elsewhere, looking for a reason to retire or possibly to pursue a compensation claim. Surveillance is more cost effective on these employees rather than the occasional “Monday Morning” sickness employee.

• Ensure the surveillance firm you employee is experienced in surveillance gathering techniques and more importantly ensure they are insured for Employer and Public Liability insurance and fully compliant with legislation surrounding surveillance and the obtaining of personal data.

• Ensure you have given employees “thorough” assistance and been given enough time to pass before instructing employee surveillance. Courts will often rule that an employee has not been provided with adequate support before exceptional surveillance was used.

• Ensure there is a “strong case” for surveillance on employees when they are found to have been acting “fraudulently” in employer’s time and whilst being paid by the employer. Examples could be timesheet or PC misuse, playing sports or on vacation whilst on sick leave, evidence they are using their labour elsewhere etc.

• Surveillance should only be used when sufficient evidence is at hand and not purely through “hearsay”. Try obtaining a medical report from an occupational health professional for stress or anxiety absence or an orthopaedic expert for a multi-skeletal leave of absence. Ask the medical expert for their opinion on whether the employee’s sickness appears genuine before instructing surveillance.

• Employers should have a return to work policy in place and do all they reasonably can to assist the employee return to work before instructing surveillance. This can be in the form of offering re-training, flexible working hours, rehabilitation, counselling etc.