By: Chris Kaszak
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COVID 19 and Private Investigations for Businesses
COVID-19 and Private Investigations for Businesses
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly changed the way that we go about our everyday lives, to include how we perform our professional work-related tasks to how we go about recreation. As more of the population becomes vaccinated and we move toward a post-COVID normality, we must consider how the pandemic has changed the investigative landscape.
More and more companies are realizing that telework and other work from home opportunities actually worked well during the pandemic, and companies are increasingly adopting work from home policies. The change in office culture to work from home has largely become the new normal. It has been stated by Willis Towers Watson, a benefits consulting firm, that by the end of 2021 nearly 2 in 5 employees will be work from home, a slight drop from the 57% of employees who work remotely now.
From the perspective of the employer there is a balance between a successful work from home program and abuse of work from home privileges. There are indicators that a company can identify as potential signs of abuse to include an employee:
- Not responding to emails, chat, or phone calls during business hours
- Not being available for virtual meetings
- Being late with turning in work product/assignments
- Customer complaints about lack of responsiveness
The challenge to the employer is that while these are potential signs that may indicate abuse, they are not definitive or conclusive signs of abuse. Employment in an at-will state, like Maryland, states that the employer or employee can end the employment relationship at any time for any reason. But I would caution against being too hasty with terminating an employee that is participating in your work from home program without some definitive proof to protect your organization from claims of retaliatory or discriminatory practices. In fact, the best protection against such a claim is to document, document, document to build an iron clad case.
This is where a private investigative firm can assist. The fundamental service a private investigator can provide is the documentation of evidence. Brown, Kaszak and Associates has assisted Maryland businesses with Employee Activity Verification to ensure that employees are performing their duties as directed.
The investigative company would be engaged after the employer has identified some indicator of fraud, waste, or abuse. The investigator would then identify and document the employee’s activity during a specified period of time. It could be one day, multiple days, or several times over multiple weeks. Once the documented evidence is presented, the employer can make an informed decision as how to proceed with any personnel action or policy modifications.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christopher Kaszak is a partner at Brown, Kaszak, & Associates, a licensed private investigations firm in Maryland. He is a 25 year industry veteran and has conducted numerous criminal and civil investigations during his tenure in law enforcement and in the private sector. Brown, Kaszak & Associates has been featured on Dateline and True Crime for investigative work that brought resolution to a cold case homicide.