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Staff pulling sickies?

Why managers must beware if they use social media to catch ‘skiving’ employees out!

On Monday ( 2 February) it  is National Sickie Day – the day when employees are mostly likely to pull a sickie, according to media reports. The combination of cold, wet weather and post Christmas-blues means that many employees just can’t face getting out of bed. 

Checking up on employees who managers expect may be skiving could be tempting, but they should take care while checking up on them using social media, warns specialist employment firm Doyle Clayton. 

Rachel Reid-Ellaby of Doyle Clayton Solicitors warns that employers who check up on absent employees in this way need to tread with care, or else they could find themselves in legal trouble.

She says: “Remember that just because someone is active on social media does not necessarily mean that they are fit for work, so managers shouldn’t jump the gun and automatically assume the worst. The employee may well have a good explanation for their posts. If you do find something potentially incriminating, keep a paper trail. Take screenshots of the offending posts so you can use them as evidence.

“However, bear in mind that these will be no substitute for a proper investigation. The law is not clear as to the extent to which an employer can rely on personal social media activity as evidence of misconduct. If the suspected sickie forms part of a pattern, for example if the employee calls in sick every other Monday, seek medical evidence such as a doctor’s certificate or medical report.

“Managers should also take care with how they gain their evidence. If the post is flagged to you by someone who has a known grudge against the employee, for example someone who has made a complaint against them, the alleged skiver might claim it is victimisation or harassment.”

Charles Elvin, CEO of the Institute of Leadership & Management adds: “Managers can pre-empt the National Sickie Day by accepting that employees are feeling the tough January, so suggest that they organise something to look forward to – perhaps the team going out for lunch together. Or suggest that if there are no meetings to be present for in person, choose a day to work from home and talk to colleagues virtually.

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