Employees caught lying to secure time off
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Within the last few days I have read about two separate high profile cases in which staff lied to their employer in order to secure time off work. The first case involved a police officer who lied about her daughter having cancer in order to secure time off work and flexible working to facilitate her daughter’s horse riding activities. The second involved a teacher who went so far as to invent a fatal crash in order to excuse his absence from school. Whilst they are undoubtedly extreme examples, both cases highlight the difficulties employers face in identifying the difference between an employee who has genuine problems justifying time off work or flexible working from those who are prepared to be dishonest to secure time they’re not entitled to.
If you suspect an employee is taking a “sickie” it can be incredibly difficult, without hard evidence to suggest dishonesty, to take any action. This is partly due to the self-certification period which means that for most short absences no doctor’s note is needed. It is often only when a pattern of regular sickies emerges that an employer will deploy tactics such as covert monitoring in order to catch the employee out. Likewise, an eligible employee is able to request flexible working e.g. to care for an elderly, ill or disabled dependant without producing any evidence of that dependant’s age, disability or illness. An employer is forced to take the employee at his or her word and must assume, without any clear evidence to the contrary, that their request is a genuine one. The problem is that the more high profile cases like this that hit the headlines, the more wary employers will become and they may therefore be less inclined to grant time off or flexible working in genuine cases of need.
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