Investigating a Malingering Employee: When your Employee's Pain is Only a Pain in the …
Posted by Pamela S. on Monday, October 22nd, 2012
It’s Monday. Chances are one or more of your
employees has called in sick. They’ve come down with a common ailment called the Monday Blues. We all know someone who has done this. A malingering employee will often become suddenly ill on a Monday, Friday, or the day before a big holiday.
Career Builder recently released their annual survey. In the past year, 30 percent of workers have called in on a pretense of illness. According to the survey, taking time off around the winter holidays is also becoming more frequent.
Career Builder provides some very funny excuses reported by actual employers:
• Employee’s sobriety tool wouldn’t allow the car to start
• Employee forgot he had been hired for the job
• Employee said her dog was having a nervous breakdown
• Employee’s dead grandmother was being exhumed for a police investigation
• Employee’s toe was stuck in a faucet
• Employee said a bird bit her
• Employee was upset after watching “The Hunger Games”
• Employee got sick from reading too much
• Employee was suffering from a broken heart
• Employee’s hair turned orange from dying her hair at home
These are hilarious, right? Not to the employers. Everyone needs a mental health day, and if a hard working, valued employee pulled this once, you could possibly forgive him or her. You should also set a good example for your employees. If you always take of Mondays or Fridays, they may feel that there is nothing wrong with this behavior.
Some people really do have legitimate illnesses, but the malingering employee who is constantly calling in sick is costing your company money.
While some employees may take the occasional fake sick day, some take full advantage, faking injuries for workers’ compensation, or exaggerating illness to extend their claims. The same applies to those collecting sick benefits, or off work on a family or medical leave.
How do you handle these cases? You can’t jump to conclusions, because the individual could be genuinely ill. You can’t terminate someone due to illness, and if the employee has a legitimate illness, you are leaving yourself open to a wrongful termination suit. An employee who phones in sick on numerous occasions could also have a substance abuse problem.
You may request a doctor’s note from an employee after a period of absence, as long as this is your policy with all employees. Outline your requirements in your employee manual, and specify exactly when a doctor’s note is required. A doctor’s note doesn’t always provide sufficient information. In some cases, you can request other documentation, such as a medical report.
According to the Career Builder survey, “Twenty-nine percent of employers have checked up on an employee to verify that the illness is legitimate, usually by requiring a doctor’s note or calling the employee later in the day. Some employers have had other employees call a suspected faker (18 percent) or even gone so far as to drive by the employee’s home (14 percent). Seventeen percent of employers have fired employees for giving a fake excuse.”
Malingering can be difficult to prove. If your employee has a habit of calling in sick on Mondays and Fridays, this is a red flag. Consult with a private investigator, such as Sheer Investigations. When your employee is supposed to be home recovering from the flu, but she is nursing a hangover, or he wants to spend the day at the beach instead of at his desk, we’ll get the evidence you need to make an informed decision.
Former FBI Assistant Director Tom Sheer has recruited the best from the FBI, DEA, IRS and Secret Service to build a formidable team at Sheer Investigations. Our private investigators have the sensitivity and experience to handle the most delicate investigations.