Arvin Aviation Case Study
Working multiple jobs is common practice for many employees across the UK. It may be that employee feels their primary employer doesn’t have the hours available or that the employee is looking to generate more income for themselves. In most cases, moonlighting is legal and the employers are aware that the employee in question is working multiple jobs, however, there are instances whereby moonlighting can be considered an illegal practice within employment law. A number of different issues may stem from moonlighting, the employee may work for cash in hand and not declare it as income or even falsify sickness to obtain Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) whilst working somewhere else. Many are aware it is frowned upon however, there will always be individuals who don’t realise they are breaking employment law and even some who think they will never be caught out.
In December 2019, our team was contacted by Vincent Essex, Managing Director of Arvin Aviation who had suspicions that one of his employees was unlawfully moonlighting on two counts. Not only was the employee suspected of breaching his contract by having a second job, but also making false sickness claims to obtain SSP whilst working as a self-employed taxi driver. Arvin Aviation was looking to conduct an investigation meeting and had tried to contact the employee on multiple occasions with no success. This led to Vincent wanting to move forward with disciplinary action, however, he wanted to obtain evidence before any hearing was called.
The objectives of the investigation were simple, establish whether the employee was being genuine about his sickness and if not, was he using this as a smokescreen for moonlighting? Before our team could begin planning the investigation, we looked into the background of the employee with Vincent to identify anything that may useful. The employee in question had worked for the company for over 10 years and prior to this was a taxi driver. He was considered a good employee and had recently spoken to the management team in regards to his working hours due to having a new son which was in the process of being reviewed. The employee had been receiving SSP for 6 months and had provided doctors notes, which suggested he was unable to work. Vincent had also been informed by a few members of the team that the employee had recently renewed his taxi license as well as purchasing a new house, something that would be difficult if the employees monthly earnings were basic SSP.
We determined that the best way to carry out the investigation would be through covert observations, starting at the home address and tracking the movements of the employee to determine if he was moonlighting. Our team arrived at the home address early in the morning and identified the vehicle believed to be the employees, from the information we had received from Vincent. Upon closer inspection, the vehicle was found to have magnetic taxi signs on either side of the car as well as a taxi license plate affixed to the rear. The operatives managed to obtain clear photographic evidence of the vehicle, however, as the investigation was about the employee, more evidence was needed to prove he was using his vehicle as a taxi. After making a few local trips in the morning, the employee preceded to spend the majority of his day in the vehicle with the taxi signs still attached to the vehicle. During the time in which the operatives were conducting surveillance on the employee, he was constantly pulling over and stopping for short periods of time imitating that of a taxi driver although he didn’t pick up a fare. After searching for a taxi in the area on a smartphone application, the operatives were able to find the taxi active for a few seconds before he quickly went offline. After nearly 5 hours of driving, the employee returned home and operatives ceased their operation.
All of the evidence obtained was put into a full report, including photos of the vehicle, video footage of the vehicle being driven with taxi signs affixed for the whole journey and observational notes from the operatives. We then organised to meet Vincent and a member of the HR Department to go through the report with them, this way the report could be explained in detail as well as being able to answer any questions that would help their case. After the meeting, Vincent wrote to the employee inviting him to a disciplinary hearing informing him that Arvin Aviation had evidence they would like to put forward to him. Shortly after receiving this letter, the employee handed in his resignation letter without Arvin Aviation having to start any disciplinary proceedings.
Like with every investigation we conduct, the team sat down together and looked at the initial objectives of the investigation. It is always difficult to distinguish whether somebody is being genuine about an illness, however, in this case it was fairly evident that his reason for not returning to work, wasn’t suffering from work related anxiety. It was very apparent that the employee was moonlighting as a taxi driver. The short answer was yes, although he may not have been caught picking up any fares on the day, the employee left the house with the intention of being identified as a taxi driver. He knowingly drove around the city centre advertising his vehicle as a taxi. When presented with possible evidence, the employee downed tools and resigned without putting up any fight, further enhancing the fact that he was intentionally breaching his contract.
‘I contacted Reveal PI after a google search for a PI in my local area (Birmingham) and called them after reading reviews as I was initially unsure if this kind of service would resolve my HR issue. I spoke with Andrew who ran through various options of how I could deal with a long term sick employee who I was paying, but I was suspecting they had income / were working elsewhere. I choose two solutions to assist me, one of which was surveillance. This was carried out at a reasonable rate and upon receiving the full report – which was very detailed, I was able to present the allegations to the employee. The report provided was unquestionable by the employee and they were surprised I had the legal evidence and the volume of it to present to them. It yielded the results I required and would have no hesitation in using them again if I thought an employee was defrauding my business”
Vincent Essex, Managing Director of Arvin Aviation
Have you found your business in a similar situation or have suspicions that one of your employee’s may be moonlighting without your consent? We would be more than happy to arrange a free consultation and establish whether we could provide answers to your questions and obtain the evidence you need to deal with them effectively.