There’s a TV show called "Cheaters" that hires undercover investigators to spy on people who are suspected of straying from their significant others. The best part, of course, is when the cheaters are outed and get served their just desserts in front of their loved one and a full camera crew.

I wonder if benefits pros would be interested in a show called "Leave Cheaters," based a similar premise, but targeting employees who stray from their companies’ written time off policies.

I wrote a blog post a while back about a company who outed a leave cheater via Facebook, and just recently, I read a news report that profiled a private detective being hired by employers to catch leave cheaters.

The report from WITN — an NBC affiliate in North Carolina — featured Rick Raymond, who uses his spying talents to catch romantic cheaters and leave cheaters alike. Corporations pay him to spy on workers who take sick days when they suspect employees are not truly sick.

Apparently, leave cheating is rampant in North Carolina.  "80 to 85 percent of the time, there's definitely fraud happening," Raymond told WITN.

Further, the station reports that according to survey data from Kronos, leave cheating is a problem far outside the outer banks. Some 57% of U.S. salaried employees take sick days when they're not really sick — an almost 20% increase from 2006 to 2008.

However, you don’t have to take leave cheaters lying ways lying down. A 2008 7th Circuit Court of Appeals case offers employers some legal cover in using surveillance to catch leave cheaters.

In Vail v. Raybestos Products, the 7th Circuit panel found that Raybestos had "honest suspicion" that Diana Vail was abusing her FMLA leave and did not violate Vail’s rights under the law by spying on her to catch her.

But even if it’s not unlawful, is spying a method you’d use to catch leave cheaters? Is the time and expense spent on surveillance worth it? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Employee Benefit News content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access