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Days off for legitimate sickness are likely to have increased a little in the past few weeks as you might expect – it’s pretty cold out and people are getting burnt out by now. On the other hand, staff are likely to have a lot of other ‘commitments’ outside of work to juggle at this time of year too. So not all pleas for a ‘sick day’ may be quite what they seem…

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

Keep A Cool Head – This Is What Policies Are For

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.

Gather Evidence

The first part of a disciplinary process will normally be to undertake an investigation to see what evidence you can find to corroborate your suspicions and therefore even whether a disciplinary is actually 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 sipping mulled wine at a christmas market 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.

Hold A Return To Work Interview

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, find out and 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 will be the ones buying you the mulled wine tomorrow!

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