Faking illness – What Australian employers can do

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Faking illness is a growing problem for Australian employers. Job search website Adzuna ran a survey about the topic in 2018. It revealed that a whopping 18.5 per cent of all workers had faked illness to get off work in the previous year. That’s almost one in five workers.

Everybody feels like not going to work sometimes. But that doesn’t make faking illness okay. You’re running a business and these fake sick days can cost you a fortune. Not to mention your time and energy spent dealing with the problem.

So, what to do to protect your business?

The most common form of faking illness is “chucking a sickie”

Taking a day off, or “chucking a sickie”, is the most common form of faking illness in Australia. Some of the reasons employees do it include:

  • Exhaustion
  • Taking a long weekend
  • Having another job interview
  • Feeling like going fishing or surfing
  • Boredom at work
  • Avoiding a workplace bully
  • Recovering from a hangover

If someone is skipping work because of bullying, that’s a problem to address. But if your employee is in the habit of faking illness just for fun, you need to know.

Employees faking illness - what should you do?
Ahhh! But “chucking a sickie” to skip work is a big problem for employers.

The law protects employees from being unfairly dismissed for absence due to sickness. But as an employer, you have rights, too.

Use Australian law to combat fake absences

Do you suspect an employee is misleading you about their reason for being absent? You have means to challenge their story.

The Fair Work Act gives you the right to request evidence of illness from your employee.

There are no strict rules on what type of evidence the employee has to provide you. Usually a medical certificate is enough evidence of illness. And usually you’ll have to accept it.

But if you still have suspicions, there’s more you can do.

Simple steps to take if you suspect your staff of faking illness

You know the type – they’re always taking a sick day on Mondays, or after a big game, or when it’s windy (to catch a wave). But how can you prove the employee is faking their illness?

First, try asking your other employees if they know anything. Nobody wants to snitch, but you might still get some clues.

Check social media for fake sickness hints
Check your employee’s social media for clues about faking an illness.

Now try checking the employee’s social media account to see if they left you any evidence. Perhaps status updates about recreation when they’re supposed to be home sick?

But the evidence has to be compelling if you want to challenge their medical certificate.

Could it be WorkCover fraud?

Some Australian employees fake illness in an attempt to commit WorkCover fraud. Worker’s compensation fraud is an offence.

If you think that’s happening in your case, report your employee to the relevant authority. You can do it online. Each state and territory have their own reporting process. For example, WorkSafe is the relevant authority in Victoria.

Surveillance can prove your employee is faking illness

If you believe your employee is rorting the system, there’s a way to prove it.

You can hire a private eye to watch, follow and record your employee. Covert surveillance gives you a chance to learn and prove what’s going on when nobody else is around.

Melbourne Investigations carries out surveillance to prove cases of faking sickness. We can help prove cases of systematic fake illness or WorkCover fraud.

Our private eyes will follow your employee discreetly. They will never know they are being watched. We’ll observe and take video showing how they go about their day. If they are claiming disability or serious illness but go out for a jog, we’ll prove it. And you can use our video evidence in legal situations if necessary.

Protect your business from employees who fake illness. Contact Melbourne Investigations today to talk about what you suspect – and how we can prove it.

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