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Lie detectors to spot 'sickies'

13 May 2008

Lie detectors to spot 'sickies' Lie detectors could be introduced to detect when workers are 'pulling sickies' after trials were hailed an achievement, it has been reported.

Employer groups have welcomed the idea after the government declared the pilot schemes at local authorities as money-saving triumphs, according to Personnel Today.

James Plaskitt, the government's anti-fraud minister, announced last week that projects using the Voice Risk Analysis system to detect false benefits claims were a winner – saving more than £420,000 in Harrow borough council alone.

The technology, developed by outsourcing firm Capita in conjunction with technology specialist Digilog UK, detects changes in a caller's voice before calculating the likelihood of a lie and then advising the operator what to say to encourage the caller to withdraw their claim.

Lawrence Knowles, managing director of Midland HR, told the publication the tool would be a useful method to reduce 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]."

Students who work part-time to support their studies could be interested to hear that their employers may soon be using lie-detector tests to see if they are really ill when phoning in sick.

Director of human resources policy at the Confederation of British Industry, Susan Anderson, told the Press Association she believes the technology could be very useful but warned against employers behaving like "Big Brother".

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