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When alarm bells should ring that member of staff is 'pulling a sickie'

Detectives say employers should be suspicious if:

There is no communication whatsoever: It is normal when an employee is sick or genuinely injured to be in contact with their employer on a reasonably regular basis to notify them of the progress of their treatment/recovery. However, if absent employees are not contactable at all via phone or email over long periods, this is suspicious.

• No activity on Facebook: Facebook is a public medium and so employers are entitled to look at an absentee's Facebook page. Everyone knows stories about people who were rumbled taking "sickies" after posting tales of hangovers on Facebook. For this reason, fraudulent claimers tend to stop all Facebook activity while Facebookers who are genuinely ill will maintain a normal level of traffic.

• Sick notes from different doctors: Over time, absentees are required to send in sick notes, which are signed off by a doctor, at regular intervals. It's not usual for three sick notes to come from three different doctors.

• Avoiding appointments: Employers are entitled to write by registered mail to notify sick employees of a visit to them at home. They are also entitled to ask them to attend an appointment to a doctor of their nomination, once it is paid for. Continuous avoidance of such visits is a suspicious sign.

• Reports of a busy social life: listen to staff for reports of the absentee playing sports or being out on the town. Detectives say a pub is acceptable, but a nightclub is not.

• Combine all of the above: One or two of the above can be suspicious, but ticking all the boxes means you might need to employ a private eye.

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