Employee Moonlighting whilst on Long-term Sick
A fellow ABI member recently posted an article regarding a clients employee working whilst off work for 14 months on long-term sick...
Seven days off sick or less If you're off work sick for seven days or less, your employer shouldn't ask for medical evidence that you've been ill. Instead they can ask you to confirm that you've been ill. You can do this by filling in a form yourself when you return to work. This is called self-certification. More than seven days off sick If you're off work sick for more than seven days your employer will normally ask for a fit note (or Statement of Fitness for Work) from your GP or hospital doctor. Fit notes are sometimes referred to as medical statements or a doctor's note.
My company was recently contacted by a Leeds based manufacturing company requesting assistance with an employee absenteeism investigation. The individual in question had allegedly suffered an injury at work in early 2018. As a result, he was signed off work by his GP and in June 2019, after 14 months the employee was still claiming to be unfit for work. During this period the company had received numerous updated ‘Fit Notes’ or ‘Statement of Fitness for Work’ from the individual. The client had implemented ‘Return to Work Programs’ incorporating reduced hours and light duties which had received resistance from the employee. There were also rumours that the employee may be working elsewhere as he had been seen wearing tradesperson style clothing. The company decided that it was time for action and this employee needed investigating to ascertain his actual fitness for work.
Plan of Action & Surveillance
Our Corporate Team met with the Human Resource Department and agreed an investigation plan based around the objectives and allocated budget.
We deployed 3 operatives to commence observations at the home address from 0500 hours the following day. At 0600 hours the employee was positively identified exiting the home address and waiting on the pavement wearing tradesperson style clothing. A construction vehicle halted next to him after a short time which he entered. The operatives covertly followed the construction vehicle approximately 20 miles to an industrial estate where all occupants entered business premises.
The employee returned to the vehicle a short time later with other males associated with a construction company, all wearing high visibility vests bearing a company logo thereon. The vehicle was followed for approximately 40 miles where the employee and further work colleagues proceeded to set up temporary traffic lights and dig up the road. Extensive video footage was gained of the employee, (who was allegedly too ill to work), using a pneumatic drill, lifting manhole covers, laying cables and carrying heavy construction equipment. The employee was under observations throughout the day until he returned to his home address. A comprehensive report was compiled using the operatives’ video footage, also taking still imagery from it and placing it within the heart of the report. Such report is admissible in a tribunal or court hearing as an exhibit and can be used as evidence at a trial.
The employee was served the evidence gained by my company and a date for a gross misconduct hearing was set. The individual resigned from the company with immediate effect and court proceedings are ongoing to recoup the fraudulently claimed sickness pay over the past 14 months.
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