Investigating “Long Term Sickness”

We posted this recently on our social media pages and it drew such a positive response and an increase in enquiries into our services that we decided to move it over to give it its own space on the Surmount blog.

Last week we noticed a lot of negative feedback online but specifically on LinkedIn to a rather disreputable ‘investigation consultancy’ company and comments / posts that they made on the topic of investigating “long term sickness”. Here at Surmount, we wanted to step into the ring on what proved on LinkedIn to be a particularly contentious topic and show you where we stand.

Specifically where we stand as a company professionally, ethically and legally in the face of such ‘cowboys’ offering to “deal with” those “staff members off sick that are costing you money”.

Should “long term sickness”, as it is presented in those terms, be placed into the hands of professional investigation services? No.

Do Surmount Investigations take on investigations into an employee’s “long term sickness”? To put it bluntly, no.

We investigate employees on behalf of their employers for a multitude of reasons (potential criminal conduct, harassment, unsafe practice, behaviour threatening to the company reputation, etc.) and that can include FRAUDULENT sickness.

And that’s the key! You can’t just put an employee under investigation / surveillance because “they’ve been off for ages” or you don’t *think* it’s legitimate. You have to have reasonable grounds for suspicion, or ‘just cause’ if you will, for believing that the period of sickness is fraudulent and it is impacting your company in a meaningful way.

For example, your employee is off with an injury they claim to have sustained at work and is taking sick pay from you and considering legal action but you have grounds to belief they are actually working and claiming an income elsewhere at the same time?

Reasonable grounds to have this investigated? Yes. Absolutely!

What about an employee who has been off work for between 3 – 6 months with stress and depression but you’ve “heard” that they’ve been “seen” out at the shops and in a pub with friends?

Reasonable grounds to have this investigated? No. Most GPs nowadays will advocate socialisation and remaining connected with friends as an asset to treating stress and depression. This employee requires an employer’s support, not scrutiny.

Careless wording doesn’t help validate the services a professional investigation can ethically supply to support an organisation against fraudulent sickness or injury claims.

In the same breath, a lot of employers and organisations are all too quick to apply the “Bradford Factor” in principle when it comes to staff sickness and questions surrounding its legitimacy. We were asked recently what our opinions were on this as a model. To put it very simply, the “Bradford Factor” gives no consideration to certain disabilities or long term illnesses so we’d be wary in this day and age of any employer using this model and this model alone to assess and manage an employee’s sickness.

We’ve turned down assignments offered to us by organisations to investigate a staff member’s “long term sickness” because of the ethical and lawful dubiousness. If you want advice and guidance around issues pertaining to legitimacy in this area, please book a FREE consultation with us to discuss it in more detail:

enquiries@surmount-investigations.com

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