Lie detectors set to identify ‘sickie’ takers

Lie detectors could be used to discover if workers are falsely calling in sick, after the government hailed a trial to detect false benefit claims as a success.

A year-long pilot at Harrow Borough Council used the Voice Risk Analysis system to detect false benefit claims.

Lawrence Knowles, managing director of software and outsourcing firm Midland HR, told Occupational Health’s sister title Personnel Today, that such a system would soon be a useful tool in reducing sickness absence. “If lie detectors can detect benefit fraud, then why not look at the application of the technology in absence management?” he said. “If you know there is a lie detector on the other end of the phone, I’m pretty sure most people would think twice [about lying].”

Susan Anderson, director of HR policy at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), conceded that the technology could be “very useful”, but warned against employers behaving like Big Brother and said that a detector needed to be used as part of a range of incentives and penalties.

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