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The weather definitely feels like it’s on the turn. And whilst the sun normally brings a smile to most folks and a boost to the energy levels, it can also bring a touch of, well how can I put it politely? The ‘Sicknote’ in some….

Yesterday morning on the radio show I was listening to, they were talking about how to prepare for ‘pulling a sickie’: the premise being that you needed to have laid the groundwork already in preparation for not turning up today (low voice, murmurs of a weekend spend feeling under the weather etc etc). And I bet many will have been taking note. Because it doesn’t help suspicions when a YouGov survey recently found that 19% of British workers had lied about being sick to get off work in the last year.

So what do you when you suspect your team might be pulling a fast one and you don’t know how to call them on it?

You might be tempted to leap into a stern word on the phone or get on their case when they return. But tread carefully. If you suspect that an employee of yours is guilty of lying about their sickness, it falls under misconduct and therefore should be dealt with under your written disciplinary policy in a formal way. Hopefully this has been already communicated to your team members when they joined the business, but if not, you need to clearly outline it to them.

The first part of this will normally be to undertake an investigation to include to see what evidence you can find to corroborate your suspicions and therefore even whether a disciplinary is necessary. Having a ‘feeling’ therefore is not exactly firm evidence. Nor is someone just being active on social media (if you’re connected on any medium you may be able to see their activity) necessarily evidence of lying, as we all know that updates can be made within seconds. Updates which include selfies of them swimming in the nearest lake may prove more interesting (!), but still need to be investigated (take screenshots) and the employee given a chance to explain before any action is taken.

Even if you have none of these, what I would recommend, is to speak to your team members on their return, and hold what we in HR call a ‘return to work interview’ and explain your concerns about their sickness and find out what you can do to support them. You might not be able to prove that they were off for the reason they gave, however you may just shower them with so much care that they’ll think twice before doing it again….

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Jeremy Gould: Ferris