Aussie employees better start looking for some reasons other than a sudden sickness to take a day off work, for lie detectors with a new generation of voice analysis systems used in the UK are all set to enter Down Under.
The technology means someone phoning in for a sickie will speak not to their boss, but to a computer set up to check whether their voice is steady and reliable.
Last year sick leave costs Australian businesses 2.56 billion dollars a year, a study conducted by recruitment company Morgan and Banks found.
Sickies across the Australian Public Service cost taxpayers 295 million dollars a year in salaries and up to three times that amount in total expenses, The Australian reported in December.
The system, developed by Capita and Digilog UK, is called Voice Risk Analysis.
It makes thousands of checks during a call and if it picks up changes in a caller's voice that suggest they are under pressure - as is likely if they are lying - it gives prompts to whoever is taking the call. They can then encourage the caller to change their mind about being sick.
Scott Barklamb from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said workers would have to "wait and see" what interest, if any, employers had in the technology.
"Workplaces have done a lot of work to eliminate the culture of the sickie," News.com.au quoted him, as saying.
Barklamb said the key thing for employers was to be able to ask for proof of illness through a medical certificate.
"It certainly isn't a priority we've heard of from within our membership," he said.
Lawrence Knowles, managing director of UK software and outsourcing firm Midland HR said that the system would soon be a useful tool in reducing sickies.
"If lie detectors can detect benefit fraud, then why not look at the application of the technology in absence management?" he said.