Too Many Pings? Tracking Unauthorised Absences During COVID

2020 and the first half of 2021 have been some of the most difficult times that businesses have ever had to face. Many have spent months closed to customers completely, unable to earn money to pay employees.

That’s why, now that the world is tentatively opening up, it’s important that companies make as much money as possible – but never at the expense of the health of their workers.

Which is why struggles continue, especially as people are being asked to spend more time in isolation if they are pinged as a close contact by the NHS Test and Trace app.

But what do you do if someone keeps getting pinged by the app and saying they can’t come in, especially if they’re critical to your business staying open? What can you do if it seems suspicious?

Sensitivity Is Key

Firstly, you absolutely have to remember that the COVID-19 pandemic is very real and that many people have been horribly affected by it. So you cannot just assume that someone is exaggerating if they’ve been contacted multiple times – this is highly insensitive if it turns out to be true.

The only time you should take action is if you have an employee who keeps avoiding work by saying they are being contacted by test and trace, and then you’re given some form of evidence to show that they aren’t isolating.

Then, you can start to plan gathering your own evidence to understand the situation, remembering that it may all be a misunderstanding and your employee may be doing the right thing.

Blatantly Disregarding Rules

It’s where you know that an employee is claiming they’re isolating but then flaunting that by meeting up with friends and family, going to the pub or taking day trips that it’s worth considering hiring a private investigator. Surveillance can be used to gather the evidence needed to show that they weren’t isolating as they said they were.

Or, you might instead get the peace of mind you require to show that actually yes, they are doing the right thing and staying at home, and therefore you don’t need to worry about their behaviour.

Once you know either way, you’ll be able to plan your next steps – either in managing how your business can stay open and running without them during their genuine time at home, or by preparing to discipline or potentially dismiss the employee with the details you’ve put together.

Again, remember that most people are following the rules as intended and that due to the high number of deaths, any legal action around COVID-19 is sketchy ground. Only consider it if you have concrete evidence that the employee is lying, and you have a clear case that won’t backfire.

If you want to know more about surveillance or indeed any of the services a private investigator can help an employer with, give us a call on 01772 334700 to have a chat.

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