Bosses who don’t believe ‘sickie’ calls

7 November, 2013
by: Cripps Pemberton Greenish

A recent survey by health insurer AXA PPP Healthcare suggests that one boss in three is so suspicious when workers call in sick, that they check their employees’ Facebook and Twitter pages to see if there is any evidence to the contrary. In fact, a quarter of employers surveyed have also asked colleagues to telephone absentees to check that they are at home sick, and not attending job interviews, socialising or otherwise.

Establishing the veracity of sickness absence by staff is a problem encountered daily by many employers. Although forms of social media can be useful in this regards, managers should ensure that they exercise caution when relying on this type of evidence and avoid making snap judgments on this information alone, since there is no legal requirement that a worker who is signed off sick must remain at home or ‘bed-bound’. In many cases, (particularly those involving stress or depression), activities can be a means of improving health and promoting a return to work. Employers should avoid using such evidence to suggest that the worker is therefore fit to work or has acted dishonestly in any way.

However, if there is evidence the worker is not genuinely sick or is deliberately exaggerating the extent of their incapacity, this should be dealt with as a case of misconduct.