Up until now a cough-spluttered phone call would have been enough to convince your boss that you were ill; that the reason you were not in work was because you had been struck down with something so contagious that even thinking about the office would put all your workmates at risk of your infectious ailment.

This could all be about to change, however, if a new government scheme is to be put into place. After a recent, successful trial that involved councils up and down the country using lie detectors to catch out benefit fraudsters, similar technology could be set to enter the workplace.

Voice Risk Analysis

The tech used in the benefit fraud scheme was Voice Risk Analysis (VRA) software, which is able to identify the slightest change in a person’s voice and help in figuring out whether they are telling the truth or not.

The system went on trial last May, beginning in the London borough of Harrow, and was deemed a success. So much so that anti-fraud minister James Plaskitt announced last week that the scheme would be extended.

Speaking recently about using VRA in the workplace, Susan Anderson, director of human resources policy at CBI, believed that fake sick days cost businesses £1.6 billion a year and that technology could be used as part of a range of incentives and penalties.

There’s no announcement as of yet when a workplace-based trial is likely to take place.