Do you suspect that there are malingerers – employees who are lying or exaggerating their illness or injury to avoid attending work – in your workplace?

06 Jun 2017

Does there seem to be an epidemic of employees who contract a 24-hour virus on Fridays? Or perhaps who take regular short-term absences when a big sporting event is on?

Malingerers are something that many pharmacies face, but there is no reason to feel like it is an unmanageable situation.

There are some things you can do if you suspect someone is malingering.

Conduct return to work interviews

After each absence, you should carry out a return to work interview to probe into the reason for the absence. If you have noticed particular patterns or they have many frequent short-term absences, you can ask them whether there is a reason for it.

If the employee is malingering, it may act as a deterrent to know that their absences have been monitored, you are spotting specific trends and that disciplinary action may be taken.

Ask for medical evidence

If you have vague or inadequate reasons for absences, you may wish to ask for medical evidence. You can obtain medical evidence either from a GP or an Occupational Health Report. However, you will typically need the employee’s written authorisation.

Asking for medical evidence may have the effect that absences reduce as it suddenly dawns on the employee that they are unable to provide any real evidence.

If they decline or are very reluctant to consent to medical evidence, you will need to probe as to why.

Investigate the alleged misconduct

Conducting a well-thought out investigation allows managers to consider the matter fully before deciding whether disciplinary action is necessary.

For advice on this topic, call the NPA Employment Law Advisory Service Team on 0330 123 0558 or email