The five most frequent situations requiring an investigation

 1. Internal, external or time theft

Theft is a criminal act that can result in a range of disciplinary measures up to and including dismissal and/or criminal prosecution. The consequences vary depending on the severity, type of theft and the organization’s policies. Theft of goods and theft of time are the two most frequent cases.

Since some employees have access to goods or equipment, and may even be responsible for inventory, theft can be an easy crime to pull off and conceal in the workplace. Time theft is even more common. For instance, an employee may spend an excessive amount of time on social media, in the restroom, on break or at lunch, or may even ask a co-worker to cover for them.

Time theft often goes undetected due in part to workers covering for each other or abusing the trust of people in positions of authority. Various investigative methods can be considered in such cases. Some situations may require surveillance, such as when an employer has reasonable grounds to suspect an employee of handling personal business during work hours, performing duties for another company, or simply failing to fulfill work obligations in a work from home position.

In other cases, a hidden camera or spyware can be highly effective if it is properly installed, meets legal standards and respects privacy rights. It should be noted that an undercover agent may be a necessary investigation tool in more complex situations.

 2. Dishonest or fraudulent absenteeism

The costs of fraudulent absenteeism to an organization can be considerable, whether due to a fake work accident, exaggerated physical or psychological limitations, or a worker prolonging a disability. Furthermore, if such a situation is tolerated, the company culture could sustain significant damage. This issue is very common in several industries, with workers not understanding the financial and organisational impact of their actions.

Managers must quickly address this problem in the context of a labour shortage. The most effective way to respond is to deploy surveillance on the employee when the situation permits. The employee’s manager and company must demonstrate reasonable grounds, plan the operation carefully and respect the employee’s right to privacy under the law.

In some instances where a worker is absent, but the employer reasonably suspects that they are employed elsewhere or self-employed, pretextual communications and visits can be used to check and document the unfolding of the situation under investigation. This investigative method is often combined with surveillance to gather evidence and build a complete report.

3. Trafficking or use of controlled substances 

Using or selling drugs, alcohol, or other controlled substances in the workplace is unacceptable and dangerous but increasingly common. Although prohibited and covered by clear company policies, the legalization of certain substances is blurring the moral lines for employees. Specifically, the use of drugs and alcohol during work hours is on the rise, as is the risk of workplace accidents related to this behaviour. The presence of an undercover agent within the workforce, combined with hidden cameras or surveillance, are effective ways to neutralize the problem. When evidence is gathered, the intervention of experienced interviewers is often necessary to resolve a problematic case involving the use and/or trafficking of controlled substances.

4. Harassment  

Regardless of form, all harassment cases have serious moral and legal consequences. Frequently, cases of harassment aren’t disclosed to other members within the organization until it’s too late to take action. As a result, this type of situation regularly results in legal action against the company or its leaders.

Harassment can lead to high turnover, damage to the reputation of individuals and the company, hiring difficulties due to a lack of applicants, and in some cases, negative media attention or even legal action. Many of these negative impacts can occur if no disciplinary measures are instituted to protect victims and stop the harasser from carrying on with the abuse. Many investigative methods or a combination of them can be used to respond to and address such situations. In some cases, an undercover agent in direct or indirect contact with the harasser or the problematic environment can be effective. However, in most situations, investigators will need to meet with the workers concerned, the victims and the witnesses in collaboration with the employer’s human resources representatives or an external specialized firm.

5. Deliberate equipment damage/vandalism 

Vandalism and equipment breakage are often related to collective agreement negotiations, grievances or general worker dissatisfaction or ill-intentioned competitors. These incidents are costly for a company and dangerous for the workers. An employer or a specialized investigation firm may want to consider a range of investigation methods depending on the case. The installation of hidden cameras can be very effective in some situations where locations are targeted and predetermined. Other more problematic cases will require undercover agents, followed by employee interviews by specialized investigators. If damage is done outside the facility, hidden cameras and/or static surveillance are very effective.


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