Proving an employee is moonlighting

A Birmingham based engineering company got in touch as there were rumours within their office that one of their employee’s was claiming to be unfit for work, due to neck and back problems that have left him ‘bed-bound’, whilst working a second job. The member of staff had been at the company for some time so he was receiving full pay and it was causing animosity between other team members who weren’t happy that it seemed everybody was aware of the problem and nobody wanted to address it. The HR director emailed us from a personal email and explained that they wanted to discuss their options but they were concerned about the legality of the investigation and also worried about disclosing their company details. A member of our team exchanged a couple of emails and explained that we take our clients confidentiality incredibly seriously so all of our data is handled, stored and accessed securely and in accordance with GDPR and data protection laws.

 

We invited the HR director in to our office for a meeting and the following day they came to see us with their MD, after a detailed meeting discussing the possible options and after some consideration decided that the most appropriate solution would be to conduct a short period of covert surveillance. Our experience enabled us to create an effective plan for one morning and establish whether the rumours were correct. Our experience working on similar cases allowed us to provide them with a realistic cost estimate and we agreed a budget for the case.

 

We were able to identify the subject’s address and vehicle details within a couple of hours of online and social media research, later that week a team of two covert surveillance operatives began the investigation. The team arrived at the employee’s property in the early hours of the morning and using a modified vehicle were able to covertly monitor the property without raising suspicion from the employee or any of the neighbours. Around 8am the employee left the property wearing what appeared to be workwear, he walked across the road and entered his vehicle before leaving the area. The operative monitoring the employee’s property had updated the other team member which direction the employee was travelling allowing him to begin following the vehicle once he joined the main road rather than following through the quiet residential estate. The use of two covert vehicles and the cover of busy rush hour traffic allowed the team to follow the employee completely unnoticed.

 

Shortly before 9am the employee arrived at a residential address and parked next to a white van where the team observed him meet with another unknown male, the pair walked along the drive to the property they had parked outside and knocked on the door. They were let in to the property and a few moments afterwards were seen walking around the front garden with what appeared to be the owner of the property giving instructions about what he wanted done. The employee and driver of the white van were seen taking tools out of the van before beginning ground work in the garden. Over the course of the morning they were observed cutting the grass, digging flower beds and the foundations for fencing.

 

The team observed the employee lifting heavy equipment, conducting physical labour and clearly displaying a level of fitness inconsistent with the information he was telling his employer. We prepared a surveillance report and conclusive video footage which was securely transferred to the employer the following day, they took a look at the footage and decided they were satisfied the employee was being untruthful but wanted an additional day to ensure the case was strong enough to stand up in the event the employee challenged it. The following week, similarly to the first week, we sent a team of two surveillance operatives to repeat the investigation. Unsurprisingly the employee left the house at the exact same time and travelled to another residential property where he was seen meeting with the same man and gardening for the day.

 

At this stage they were satisfied that they had sufficient evidence to confront the employee and were going to invite him to meet with the occupational therapist to establish whether he would be fit to return to work or if there was any way in which they could assist his recovery. They instructed us to conduct a final day of surveillance on the day of the meeting and on that morning the subject was followed to an address we later found out to be his fathers. He got out of the driver’s seat and into the passenger seat and moments later his father walked out of the property and entered as driver. His father drove him to the office and when they arrived his father took a pair of crutches out of the boot before passing them to the employee and assisting him into the office. The employee had claimed that he was unable to work because he had sustained a back injury which was preventing him from driving and rendering him bed-bound.

 

During the meeting the employer presented our evidence and asked the employee if there was any feasible explanation as to why he was unable to work in his current employment while concurrently working a manual labour job. As the employee had been with the company for some time and in an attempt to resolve the issue the employer offered various solutions including reduced hours and a role containing light duties but ultimately the employee handed in his resignation and left the business. The employer felt the evidence was strong enough to dismiss the employee on multiple grounds, primarily that he had been untruthful about his medical condition and it was also stated in his employment contract that he must not take on any additional work without contacting his employer to discuss the issue.

 

 

The employer commented that once the troublesome employee had left there was a noticeable improvement in the rest of his team. They had been expecting the employee to return to work they had not sought a replacement and that meant the rest of the team had been splitting additional work between them so once a replacement was hired and the work load returned to normal the morale problem within the team improved drastically. Although the employer requested we do not mention their name they were happy to provide us with some figures and also some feedback. They noted that the cost of the investigation was a tiny ident compared to the full pay for nearly 4 months prior to them engaging our services so not only had they managed to improve morale and productivity within the team they had also saved a substantial amount of money in lost wages.

 

HR Director – “Contacting an investigator was something I had postponed for months however it immediately became clear that it was absolutely necessary to resolve the issue, we had bent over backwards to accommodate this employee but found no other options available. The service and the advice we received was fantastic and I would not hesitate to use Reveal should we find ourselves in a similar situation in the future.”

 

Managing Director – “Overall I think the team were excellent, we took an array of questions to ask where we stood from a legal perspective and they were able to offer expert HR advice in addition to great results. I would highly recommend using a reputable private investigator to anybody.”

 

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