The easiest way to use polygraph tests in the workplace is to include a lie detector test clause in your contracts of employment. By signing and accepting their employment contracts, employees have given consent to take the tests.
However, it is important to recognise that the polygraph is an investigate tool. Its implementation and results must form part of a wider investigation. This applies whether the polygraph examination takes place at the beginning of an investigation or at the end. All evidence no matter what it is has to be corroborated by other evidence.
Conducting a fair investigation into misconduct
In the UK the ACAS Code of Practice is followed by most employers when they are considering dismissals or disciplinary action. It isn’t mandatory to comply with this Code but it makes sense to do so. The guidelines contained within it, when implemented, ensure that employees are treated fairly thereby reducing the risk of repercussions being levelled at employers in Employment Tribunals.
Nevertheless, in matters of misconduct ‘one size’ seldom fits all. Particularly difficult is a scenario where all the evidence points to one member of staff, yet the employee strongly protests their innocence. In circumstances such as these, inviting them to take a lie detector test is an option they may welcome. And more so if it means they might not be able to work in their chosen career again.
Many UK police forces use lie detector tests to monitor a variety of offenders released from prison. They use the polygraph as part of an investigation into their conduct when on probation. For example, it may be a condition of an offenders licence not to access the Internet. If the polygraph identifies deception when asked if they have accessed it, this will lead to further investigation. It may be that the police will visit the offender’s home, confiscate his or her computer and then have it forensically examined. This will then confirm or negate the result of the polygraph test. Since administering lie detector tests from 2014 many sex offenders have been returned to prison to serve the remainder of their sentences. Without the polygraph these criminals could easily have reoffended.
In the same way, if you are considering dismissing an employee, the polygraph can lead your normal investigation in directions you might not have considered. By offering them a test you are demonstrating that you have done everything possible to treat them fairly.
If you haven’t included a lie detector test clause in your employment contracts you must obtain consent of the employee before a test is administered.
Reasons employees don’t want to take polygraph tests in the workplace
If an employee refuses to take a lie detector test it doesn’t necessarily follow that they are guilty of what is alleged. They may be worried that the test won’t be accurate or that their anxiety will affect the results.
Our specialist, commercial polygraph examiners are available to alleviate their concerns. The misconceptions people have of the polygraph stem from misinformation that can be found all over the Internet.
Our examiners achieve 90 percent accuracy and above. This level of accuracy is higher than eye witness evidence. For example, since 1989 in the USA 71 percent of 358 convicts on death row were found to be innocent following the discovery of DNA evidence. The average time they had spent in jail was 14 years before being released. Eye witness testimony played an important part in their convictions. So apart from DNA which has a marginally higher level of accuracy the polygraph is the best we have currently to detect deception. At Lie Detector Test UK, we use state of the art technology.
Employees can also be assured that the goal of the test is to prove their innocence, and not their guilt. Polygraph examiners are neutral and non-judgemental. Nothing pleases them more to establish someone’s innocence. However, in attempting to do so, they often expose someone’s guilt when it exists.
When using polygraph tests in the workplace it is essential that employers don’t dismiss and employee purely based on the results of a lie detector test. The results must be backed up by other evidence that has been gathered during a reasonable investigation.
Why use lie detector tests
Few employers want to find themselves in an Employment Tribunal. If the matter can be resolved in house it is infinitely preferable. However, employers are not usually detectives and can get it wrong. How terrible would you feel if you fired a good employee who later transpired to be innocent? It makes sense to use polygraph tests in the workplace because they save hassle and enhance your confidence in those who work for you. The question is can you afford not to use them?
Polygraph results can be submitted to an Employment Tribunal if accompanied by other corroborative evidence. Acceptance will depend on the adjudicator presiding over the proceedings.
If you would like to learn more about commercial polygraph services and why so many employers are now using them, contact us for an informal, confidential discussion.