According to research conducted over the weekend, one in ten Brits plan to ‘pull a sickie’ if England defeat Colombia in tonight’s World Cup knock-out game.
The study – commissioned by Centropy HR – surveyed 2,000 members of the public and revealed that 16% of workers are considering calling in sick in the event of an England victory. Seven per cent said they were definitely going to do so, and 8% said they possibly would.
Further research from Football Tips estimated the cost to businesses of football fans calling in sick could be as much as £13billion.
So how can employers deal with this unprecedented level of unauthorised absence?
As with any other absence case, managers should always follow their sickness absence procedure and not act in haste. Employees have to be treated fairly in order to avoid potential employment tribunal cases.
First, identify and assess your evidence for believing that an employee’s absence is not genuine. Some employees may have a track record of frequent short-term absences, especially around sporting events.
If the evidence is from an eyewitness or social media, you’ll have to assess whether the source is reliable. For example, if they were seen drunk in a pub by a fellow employee, consider whether they have a positive relationship with that person.
If there is no outstanding evidence, then you’ll have to investigate. Conduct a return-to-work interview to let the employee give their explanation, and then review the evidence. If their answers are hesitant or contradictory, then it may be a conduct issue which could lead to disciplinary action.
An alternative tactic might be to allow flexible working on the day after the match and let employees make up their hours another time. This would have to be agreed beforehand however, with as much notice as possible.
The same concession would also have to be open to non-football fans and supporters of other nations besides England.