EMPLOYEE ABSENCE INVESTIGATION

Noticed or without Notice.

Managing your workforce is an essential part of running a modern business. However, when it comes to detailing and enforcing issues around absenteeism or misconduct, it’s easy to find your work cut out for you. This can lead to significant damage to your business and wasted time and resource as you struggle to find a solution that works for you and provides the absolute minimum of disruption to your daily work.

What to look out for

Put simply, the definition of employee absenteeism is the failure of a salaried or member of staff to attend the work they are employed to do. This can lead to frustration for small and large businesses alike as projects are derailed, deadlines lost, and the ability to plan for the future severely hamstrung. While there may be a full and legitimate reason for absenteeism, if it occurs over a protracted time, it will almost always need to be addressed directly.

This breaks down into two factors:

Innocent Absenteeism: This is absence caused by a legitimate issue such as maternity or paternity leave, compassionate leave, or continued illness. These will often be agreed in advance or come with a doctor’s note, confirming the specific cause, reason, and setting a timeframe for their return.

Culpable Absenteeism: On the other hand, long periods of absence without providing evidence or notification can produce problems. This can be for any number of reasons but failing to appear at work can leave their duties to be passed on to other team members or result in them being paid for periods of time where they are not working.

If the individual is faking illness or taking advantage of continued, unapproved leave, this should be addressed as soon as possible.

In addition, employee misconduct is arguably more serious. This includes:

General Misconduct: These are actions undertaken without harmful intent but will be kept on file as infractions or notes. These include lateness, repeated absence, failure to complete work to an expected standard, or inappropriate behaviour toward co-workers.

Gross Misconduct: These are actions that are undertaken with intent and are serious enough to warrant immediate dismissal or firing. This can result in severance without pay, the removal of pay in lieu, or even firing without previous offences under their belt. These can be as serious as theft, property damage, physical assault, drug and alcohol use, and worse.

Undertaking a gross misconduct firing can result in you being left open to legal action or a formal employment complaint against your company if you haven’t conducted the process appropriately.

How can it impact your business?

Employees are unquestionably one of your businesses most valuable assets. They are representatives of your company and are often entrusted with sensitive information that may be of value to your competitors.

If misconduct rears its head, this can have a compound negative effect on your staff morale, affect your professional reputation, and cause issues to the day-to-day running of your work.

In any business, large or small, there is always going to be a risk of employee misconduct that will never go away. This ranges from theft and laziness, moonlighting and malingering, or more severe acts of sabotage or harm. Unfortunately, if these incidents are not dealt with swiftly, they can affect company finances and cause day to day disruption to other staff members that can be hard to resolve.

This makes it essential to deal with any cases of employee absenteeism and misconduct swiftly and efficiently.

How can I deal with it?

Addressing any HR issues needs to be done delicately and with the greatest of empathy. However, when dealing with an issue such as continuous absenteeism, it is vital to take proactive action to prevent it from progressing any further.

At a minimum this should include-

Consulting a Professional: First and foremost, it is important to contact an HR professional to advise you on your options when it comes to addressing staff issues and the potential risk that can accompany it. Once you have reviewed your problems with HR representatives and legal counsel, consulting a professional investigative team can help confirm what evidence is required and the best method to resolve issues.

Gathering Evidence: The next step is to gather key evidence to support your claim, allowing you and your business to put their best foot forward when taking action against the individual or persons in question. This is an essential part in facing down any follow-up challenges and we would always ensure that the evidence that we gather is detailed, relevant and air-tight.

Taking Disciplinary Action: When you are ready to press ahead, you can engage with the individual and undertake any corrective action you see fit. This can range from a note and a verbal warning, to outright dismissal and any follow on legal or prosecutorial action.

How can I prevent and reduce it?

Taking action to prevent issues from employees is a common – and often complex – consideration for many businesses. If you have dealt with issues in the past or present, some simple preventative measures include-

Thorough Vetting: While there is no guarantee that problems will not arise, asking and following -up on references can give you a better chance of catching problematic employees before they become an issue.

Adjusting protocol: Carrying out an extended trial period for employment can allow you to get a better sense of an employee’s character and aptitude before making a commitment to permanently hiring them. This can also include anonymous or private feedback from co-workers about their day-to-day interactions with them.

Training and Onboarding: Putting in place an established code of conduct can help make it clear what behaviour is expected from team members at all levels. Making this part of an induction can help articulate this to all employees and help protect you in the event of legal escalation. This makes it clear. This should also foster a collaborative approach.

How can I investigate it?

This can be handled in-house. However, this is often a delicate process in the extreme as it involves extra care and caution in order to not alienate your staff and lower morale.

No employer wants to accuse a member of staff who is genuinely ill, but sometimes your suspicions are right. It’s estimated that 12 percent of sick days taken in the UK are false – approximately 21 million days per year.

These lost days can often be the direct result of employees wanting additional time off which – over time – can significantly impact company profits and productivity. On other occasions, employees may even be working elsewhere while receiving sick pay from your business. Or setting up their own business that is in direct competition with yours, deploying your intellectual property and first-hand training.

At Insight Investigations, our team of experienced private detectives has the skills and knowledge to investigate any suspicions you have regarding employee absenteeism or misconduct. It is only by fully discussing, exploring, and understanding the circumstances with you that we are able to offer help and advice.

This is delivered through the help of one or more of our private detectives, who can prove invaluable in a company’s fight against employee absenteeism and misconduct. When appointed, we discuss the issue with you in depth and develop a comprehensive understanding of your situation. This includes considering any reasons behind the employee’s actions, before advising on the best course of action for each individual case.

Discreet observation and enquiries using the latest technology and investigative methods will be conducted in a non-intrusive manner and will not come to the attention of the employee, thereby protecting the employee-employer relationship in genuine cases.

All evidence will be presented to you in a clear, concise report, and will be admissible for use in a court case or tribunal.

We have an excellent track record of investigating and solving cases involving employee absenteeism and misconduct and have many repeat corporate clients who are confident in our abilities to uncover the truth and find the necessary evidence to resolve the matter.

What next?

If you want to learn more about how we can help support your work, our team at Insight Investigations is here to help. With many years’ professional experience, we are available to help counsel, deploy, and deliver a range of solutions with the highest standards of professionalism and discretion.