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Abusive work stoppages: the essential role of private detectives


abusive work stoppage: the role of private detectives
Abusive work stoppages: the role of private detectives in the fight against work stoppage fraud

Work stoppage fraud represents a major scourge for French companies; it results in considerable financial losses for companies, disrupting the proper functioning of organizations and compromising their growth. Work stoppage fraud also constitutes a major issue for public finances as well as a subject of concern for social security organizations. Increasing from year to year, the share of unjustified work stoppages (fraudulent or not) out of all stoppages issued for all causes combined is estimated at 10%, and the overall cost of fraud for public finances is estimated at 10%. amounts to more than 16 billion euros each year.


In an increasingly complex economic landscape, companies must face a variety of risks, among which work stoppage fraud occupies a prominent and increasingly worrying place. To meet this challenge, the use of evidence professionals, such as private detectives, represents an essential strategy as well as a solution that proves to be most effective for detecting, preventing and combating work stoppage fraud.


Work stoppage fraud in France: what impact for businesses


Sick leave fraud has significant repercussions on businesses, both financially and organizationally. In addition to the financial costs directly associated with the payment of undue compensation, stoppage fraud also leads to a disorganization of resources, a drop in productivity, an increase in workloads for other employees as well as a deterioration of the climate of trust in the within the company. In addition, it can also have a negative impact on the company's reputation and its ability to attract or retain talent. Systemic absenteeism, uncontrolled, and even more so when it is based on fraud, exponentially increases the risks of bankruptcy or liquidation.

  

According to a study carried out by the Axa Prévention association in 2018, sick leave fraud costs French companies around 1.6 billion euros per year. This estimate takes into account the direct costs linked to the payment of sick pay by employers, as well as the indirect costs associated with loss of productivity and staff replacement costs.


Work stoppage fraud: what exactly are we talking about?

Work leave fraud covers various situations and includes a very wide range of cases, ranging from the fraudulent fabrication of false work leave (the most serious cases, but the rarest), to arrangements with medical prescriptions, involving withdrawals of convenience, exaggeration of ailments, non-compliance with medical prescriptions or unjustified extensions (the most frequent cases). Work stoppage fraud also affects the subject of hidden work and the pursuit of undeclared gainful activity (undeclared work). Most often, fraudulent termination occurs when employees take unwarranted sick leave or exaggerate the severity of their health conditions to avoid working. Thus, we speak of fraud when there is misuse of the health insurance system by any means in order to benefit from rights that we know are undue: the most widespread typical case of fraud is that of the employee who goes on sick leave while pursuing a hidden lucrative activity, on his own behalf or on behalf of another company, or that of the employee who takes advantage of a sick leave to go on vacation. Such behavior, if it contributes to the deficit of public finances by undermining the social security system, and therefore the community, also has the effect of disrupting the proper functioning of employing companies by deteriorating their financial capacities and their performance.



Work stoppage in a few words and the employee's obligations

Abusive work stoppage, use of private detective

The work stoppage is issued when the employee's state of health does not allow him to go to his place of work. During a work stoppage, the employment contract is suspended and the employee is authorized to interrupt the execution of his employment contract. The work stoppage gives rights to the employee, but it also entails obligations. The work stoppage can be issued for different causes, for “illness”, for “work accident” or even for “an occupational illness”.


In the event of work stoppage, the employee can claim, under certain conditions (number of hours worked, duration of stoppage, etc.) the payment of daily social security benefits (IJSS) to compensate for loss of salary , which are paid, depending on the sectors of affiliation, by the Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie (CPAM) or the Caisse de Mutualité Sociale Agricole (MSA). He may also receive, under conditions provided for in the contract or by the Collective Agreement, in whole or in part, and for a certain duration, additional compensation paid directly by the employer.


During a stoppage, the employee is bound by a set of obligations, these are set out in article L323-6 of the Social Security Code . They cover the following elements:


  • Compliance with medical prescriptions;

  • Compliance with authorized exit times;

  • Availability for health insurance checks;

  • Compliance with formal obligations (establishment of medical certificate, information of employer and social security organizations)

  • Unauthorized interruption of professional activity

  • The return medical examination

 

Failure to comply with these obligations can result in a very wide range of sanctions which can range from the simple suspension or reduction of daily health insurance benefits, to dismissal, or even criminal sanctions if the judgment is fraudulent (false declaration, scam).


During a work stoppage, the employee benefits from protections guaranteed by law. In principle, an employee cannot be dismissed for reasons of health or on the basis of sick leave, as it is discriminatory ( art. L. 1132–1 of the labor code ) , nor be forced to return to work. An employer cannot invoke the employee's state of health as a reason for dismissal, nor call into question, by any means whatsoever, the work stoppage. However, situations exist in which dismissal can take place, including against an employee on leave. This is particularly the case of repeated or excessively long sick leave, which is incompatible with the interests of the company. Or those where the employer justifies that the employee's absence causes significant disorganization to the company; or that its replacement is made necessary by the economic imperatives of the company. The same applies in the event of the employee's inability to return to work; again his dismissal is authorized.


The dismissal of an employee on sick leave is also possible if he or she does not respect the obligations inherent to the sick leave, or in situations of fraud. For example, an employee who fails to inform the employer of the reason for his absence or does so late is in a state of unjustified absence. He commits an error which could, if necessary, justify his dismissal; the same applies to the employee who falsifies sick leave, who fakes an illness, who obstructs the inspection, or who pursues an unauthorized professional activity, and even more so on behalf of a competitor. .


Finally, let us point out that the work stoppage does not suspend the duty of loyalty existing between the employee and his employer, which continues including during the period of suspension constituted by the stoppage. An employee who takes sick leave and pursues an activity competing with that of his employer is liable under the obligation of loyalty.


The strategic advantages of using a private detective in the fight against abusive arrests

abusive sick leave private detective

To effectively combat sick leave fraud, companies must put in place effective proactive prevention and detection measures. This includes establishing clear absenteeism policies, raising employee awareness of the consequences of fraud, and strengthening internal controls to detect suspicious behavior.


In the fight against work stoppage fraud and abusive stoppages, private detectives play an essential role and represent an indispensable asset. Their action makes it possible, among other things, to identify situations of fraud, to substantiate suspicions of hidden work, and to provide convincing evidence before legal or social authorities.


Using a private detective offers several strategic advantages to companies facing work stoppage fraud. First of all, through the investigations they carry out, the action of the detectives will make it possible to obtain solid evidence, supported by detailed investigation reports and relevant surveillance elements which will be used by the company victim of establish proof of the alleged breaches and take effective legal action. Then, through the independence inherent in their status, private detectives offer responsiveness and flexibility which can prove valuable, allowing them to act quickly and urgently in the face of suspicious situations and to limit financial losses. Finally, acting within a precise legal framework (the activity of detectives being regulated), they guarantee the legality of the investigations carried out, while ensuring respect for the rights of individuals and compliance with the laws in force.


Professional investigators and experts in the administration of evidence, private detectives are today essential players in the legal landscape. Exercising a regulated profession, recognized and subject to professional secrecy, the action of private detectives consists of helping companies victims of unjustified absenteeism in the search and constitution of the elements of evidence which are essential for them to take legal action, consolidate a procedure and resolve a dispute successfully. To do this, they implement various effective solutions, processes and investigation techniques, to achieve the evidentiary objectives of their clients, while ensuring their usability under the law.


Nowadays, more and more companies are using the services of private investigators to initiate or complete legal action; their reports are not only recognized by the courts, but they also often make all the difference in a given procedure.


As part of the fight against abusive work stoppages, a private detective can help the victim company in several ways. He may be required to carry out surveillance or discreet investigations which aim to:


  • Check that the employee complies with medical prescriptions, particularly with regard to exit restrictions;

  • Check whether the employee is not taking advantage of the work stoppage to work on his own account or on behalf of a third party, in particular for a competing company;

  • Gather, discreetly and legally, the factual elements relating to a continuation of hidden activity or work;

  • Organize, through prior preparatory work, the intervention of a justice commissioner for the purposes of a report or interpellative summons;

  • Gather preliminary probative information with a view to a preliminary motion (art. 145 of the Code of Civil Procedure);

  • Collect evidence in the event of suspicion of criminal offenses (making false certificates, health insurance fraud, trafficking in false certificates, medical complacency, etc.) with a view to reporting to the competent authorities or 'a filing of a complaint.





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